It seemed inevitable that James McCarthy would leave Wigan Athletic and Everton were always going to be the clear favourites to secure his services. Once Everton could confirm the sale of Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United they were going to have the funds to pay Latics the kind of asking price that Dave Whelan demanded. Although not at his best this season, McCarthy will be sorely missed by Latics.
For some time we have been waiting for Owen Coyle to sign another experienced defender and a forward capable of scoring goals. Coyle left it late, but managed to go some way towards providing what was needed through loan signings.
Latics’ interest in 19 year old Manchester United youngster, Nick Powell, had been broadcast in the media for some weeks. It was therefore no surprise when the loan deal was completed on the last day of the transfer window. However, the name of Liverpool’s Andre Wisdom had also been banded about the media, but a deal did not materialize. Wisdom would have fitted the defensive bill through his ability to play at full back or in the centre of defence.
Unable or unwilling to sign Wisdom, Coyle made an eleventh hour move to sign Ryan Shotton from Stoke on a one year loan deal. Shotton is a more experienced player than Wisdom and can also play in any slot in the back four.
Many Latics fans had questioned the need for the signing of an attacking midfield player like Powell, given the presence of playmakers Shaun Maloney and Jordi Gomez in the squad. Even with the departure of McCarthy, Coyle was still going to have a wealth of quality midfield players at his beckoning.
There is no doubt that Powell can score goals, including spectacular ones. At Crewe he had played in a more forward role, scoring 16 goals. On Powell’s arrival last summer Sir Alex Ferguson stated that “We see him as a central midfield player. Crewe played him as a forward in behind the striker, but I asked a question of [Alex director of football] Dario Gradi as to whether he thought central midfield was his position. That’s what he thinks, and Nick thinks that’s his position too, so we’re all in accord on that.”
Grant Holt’s injury leaves Latics stretched, with only Marc-Antoine Fortune available to fill the central striker role. It could be that Powell will be asked to step into that position sooner rather than later. Powell is clearly a fine young player and could make a major impact on Latics season, providing he can avoid the injury problems he had at Manchester last season.
The signing of the 24 year old Shotton is going to give Wigan much more defensive cover. The 6’3” Shotton has been used as a full back or midfield player by Stoke, although his natural position is in the centre of defence. He provides cover for Emmerson Boyce at right back. Although the captain remains a fine player he is now 33 and is going to find it difficult to get through a long season without some breaks. Shotton is not a cultured attacking full back like Boyce, but he will add defensive solidity. Shotton took over the long throw-in role from Rory Delap at Stoke and it might well be a ploy that Coyle will favour.
Coyle has now recruited 12 new players since his arrival in July. Both Powell and Shotton on one year loan deals are good signings with the view of getting Latics back to the Premier League.
It is the lack of a third specialist central striker that is the concern, but that might happen when the transfer window reopens in January. Given the audacious attempt to lure Jordan Rhodes from Blackburn it appears that Whelan is willing to pay what is needed to get another top class striker.
Coyle has once again done a good job in the transfer market.