Well, here we are. 2015 is upon us and the next few months look absolutely critical for Wigan as the club will now have to scratch and claw through the remainder of the campaign in order to avoid relegation. Currently third to last in the Championship table, Wigan face a fairly manageable slate of fixtures heading into the new year and will need to take the opportunity to move up from the bottom.
But hopefully, we won’t be alone in the effort. With the January transfer window nearly open, there’s always the chance that the club makes a few adjustments with an eye toward improvement. As of now, there’s not much in the way of key transfer target rumours, but here’s a look at a few ways in which the Latics may look different moving forward.
Fig a goer
As we know, Maynor Figueroa has been recalled by Hull City, as Hull look to manage a tricky situation that has arisen due to injuries. This isn’t ideal from a depth perspective, and it’s still natural for many supporters to think of Figueroa as one of our own. However, the departure shouldn’t hurt too badly, with Andrew Taylor looking fully fit for a while now.
But it appears as if summer signee Oriol Riera could be on the way out as well. Back in November, Talksport posted an article suggesting that Riera has received interest from a handful of La Liga clubs. While there doesn’t appear to be a single club leading the way, this story could come back around once the window is open.
Riera has yet to make a huge impact for the Latics, but the talent is there. Also, it’s nice knowing that should there be an injury, or should he simply find his groove, the club could get a boost from within. It would be a shame to see him trudge back to La Liga after such a brief spell.
There have also been rumours that useful benchman and sometime saviour Roger Espinoza wants out of Wigan, with Uwe Rosler even having publicly stated that the former MLS star was “homesick” earlier this season. For a short time, it appeared that the managerial switch to Malky Mackay may have helped matters. However, now the news is beginning to circulate that Espinoza will indeed be making his way back to Kansas City in the MLS. This is a definite blow to Wigan in terms of depth and energy, at least in theory, but when one considers how limited Espinoza’s on-field opportunities were, the immediate impact shouldn’t be too bad.
The good news
One would be entirely correct in stating that Wigan have underperformed to this point in the season. Even with these potential departures still possible, it stands to reason that the club should be able to prop itself up above relegation level. The bookies, at this point in the season, actually agree with a somewhat surprisingly positive outlook for Wigan. At Betfair’s Championship odds section, it looks as if five clubs are considered to be more likely to be relegated than Wigan. As noted here, the club has 14/5 odds to be relegated, despite currently being at third to worst in the league and facing possible transfer window departures.
It appears as if this favourable outlook is due in large part to expectations of recovery from within, given that there are virtually no rumours of impact incoming transfers at this point. James McClean has looked encouraging of late, and Mackay has taken the club in a more positive direction. He even remarked after the Leeds win that he views his club as having played decently in recent weeks, losing by one-goal margins due to errors, rather than simply being outclassed.
It still wouldn’t be a surprise to see a few small rumours emerge regarding cheap signings to bolster depth, but for now it looks as if the Latics may just look to improve on their own strength.