Defender praises impact of new boss as players rally together to push up the Sky Bet Championship table.
- Fresh start for every player.
- Great to be back involved.
- Big Hillsborough pitch will suit us.
Defender Emmerson Boyce says the arrival of new manager Malky Mackay has given every player a fresh opportunity to stake their claim for a place in the Latics starting XI.
The 35-year-old, who could make his 280th Wigan Athletic appearance at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, says he’s felt the positive effect of Mackay’s arrival and has already learnt off the former Scotland international defender himself.
“When a new manager comes in, everybody is fighting for their shirt, every player has a fresh start,” Boyce explained.
“As a player, if you’re in the starting XI, you’ve got to do everything to keep your place because we’ve got such a big, quality squad everyone is fighting to get in.
“The new manager has come in and it’s a new challenge with new ideas; they say you’re never too old to learn and I’ve learnt off him in just the week he’s been here.
“He’s got a really good, proven track record and he’s told everybody he just wants them to express themselves and enjoy playing football.
“The training has been excellent, everyone has got a point to prove and the whole place has been lifted.”
Boyce returned from nearly two months on the side-lines for Mackay’s first game in charge last weekend as Shaun Maloney helped Latics to a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough.
Prior to that game, Boyce put together a letter to Latics fans and the people of Wigan to stick together despite the difficult period of results and he was surprised with the positive levels of feedback and response.
“It was a fantastic feeling to be back,” he added. “It’s a shame we didn’t get the win but to be able to try and do my bit was fantastic.
“The Wigan fans were brilliant in the way that they showed their support to the chairman, to the new manager and the team - it made for a great atmosphere which was great to be part of.
“The letter was something we spoke about as a club and I said I wanted to send something out but I didn’t realise it would get such good feedback.
“People could have taken it the wrong way but, thankfully, the Wigan fans took it the right way and showed huge support at the game on Saturday.
“That what it’s about at this moment in time, everybody sticking together from fans to players and hopefully as a club we can move forwards and up the table.”
Sheffield Wednesday pose a different task to Boro in the sense that they have the lowest amount of goals in the Football League, however, they are the second meanest defence in the Championship but Boyce feels last year’s 3-0 win at Hillsborough shows Latics’ capabilities on the big pitch.
“There were a lot of positives to come out of the Middlesbrough game on the field because we created so many chances, played quite well and restricted Middlesbrough, who are at the top end of the table, to only a couple of shots on goal,” Boyce continued.
“It’s something to build on, the players are desperate for the club to move forward and go towards promotion.
“We played them last year at Hillsborough and it’s a massive pitch which I think will suit us with the way we like to pass the ball.
“We’ve got some quality players that can get results from one-on-ones and we need to start scoring more ourselves – it would be a great occasion for one of our strikers to find some form.”