We take our first look back at a record breaking 2017-18 campaign with a review of the summer leading up to Paul Cook’s first season in charge of Latics.
- Wigan Athletic 2017-18 Season Review: Summer
- Latics needed a new manager, new players and reinvigorating after a poor 2016-17 campaign
- Join us on the journey for 2018-19 – Season Cards on sale now!
The summer of 2017 was always going to be critical for Latics following immediate relegation from the Sky Bet Championship to League One, having won promotion just a year earlier.
Player recruitment would have to be right after another heavy turnover of players leaving the club, and off the field Latics had to make their supporters believe the 2017-18 campaign would be special.
The key, though, for Chairman David Sharpe, was recruiting a first team manager, an integral appointment and one Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis described in his recent press conference following the departure of Arsene Wenger as the ‘most important appointment that any club makes and still the most important employee that any club has’. Over to you Chairman…
On 31 May 2017 it was announced, after weeks of speculation and fluctuation between favourites in the betting markets, that Paul Cook would be Latics’ new manager with Sharpe stating the personality of the man he met in interviews and the track record of the Scouse boss at Chesterfield and Portsmouth made him the ideal person to take Latics forward.
Building a squad and rejuvenating current players who had suffered recent relegation would be the first tasks on Cook’s agenda. Chey Dunkley and Terell Thomas were arrivals that agreed to join Latics prior to Cook’s arrival with Gavin Massey and the experienced trio of Noel Hunt, Jamie Jones and Gary Roberts moving to the DW Stadium to supplement a strong Latics squad. Hunt and Roberts former players of the boss at Portsmouth.
Cook used the loan market to bring in Christian Walton from Brighton & Hove Albion, Callum Elder from Leicester City, Lee Evans from Wolves and Ivan Toney from Newcastle United.
Leam Richardson, Nick Meace and Andrew Proctor followed Cook up to the north-west from Portsmouth too, the trio arriving as Assistant Manager, Head of Sports Science and Head of Medical respectively. Anthony Barry came in as First Team Coach and Nick Colgan joined from Huddersfield Town as Goalkeeping Coach.
It wasn’t just about arrivals, though, as Mikael Mandron, Billy Mckay, Sam Cosgrove, Kaiyne Woolery and Omar Bogle moved on to pastures new.
Latics kicked off their pre-season campaign with the visit of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to the DW Stadium with Alex Gilbey and Mo Salah on the mark in a 1-1 draw – little did we know the Egyptian would take world football by a storm from that point onwards.
Mohamed Salah scored for Liverpool at the DW ahead of a sensational season for Jurgen Klopp's side.
A 0-0 draw at Southport and 1-1 draw at Grimsby Town came either side of a 2-1 success at Notts County with young forward Callum Lang scoring at Blundell Park and Meadow Lane to show his potential, something that was noted by League Two Morecambe, who signed him on loan on Deadline Day in a move that has since proved incredibly successful for the youngster.
Young forward Callum Lang impressed in pre-season.
Deadline Day was at its traditional busiest for Latics albeit it was more out than in as goalkeeper Matija Sarkic signed on loan from Aston Villa and Alex Bruce signed from Bury, having scored an early season goal against Latics. Alex Gilbey was sold to MK Dons whilst further loan departures saw Jack Byrne, Sam Stubbs, Luke Burke, Donervon Daniels, Josh Laurent and Chris Merrie make moves away.