Wigan Athletic fans are buzzing again.
Despondency had crept in with the impending departure of that great Latics servant and FA Cup winner, James McArthur. It looked like Rosler was not going to get the extra striker he desperately needed with the Andy Delort situation continuing to be uncertain. Moreover difficulties over dealing with Everton’s role in the transfer process made the Forshaw saga drag on. The creative midfielder was clearly within Rosler’s sights, but was it going to happen?
But then on Saturday Delort was presented to the crowd at the DW. A ray of hope indeed. Latics went on to give a fine performance in the 4-0 rout of Birmingham City, who had been unbeaten in the league.
Then on Monday we found out that Dave Whelan had splashed the cash after all. Leicester City had dropped out of the race to sign James McArthur, but Crystal Palace had moved in and made the acquisition. There had been rumours that Ivan Ramis was leaving too, but that did not materialize. Instead we had the confirmation of the Delort and Forshaw transfers, plus the surprise signing of experienced midfield enforcer William Kvist from VfB Stuttgart.
The three signings signaled a statement of intent from Whelan and Rosler that they really wanted to finalise a squad capable of achieving promotion. But there was another signing that was unexpected – that of Emyr Huws on a permanent contract.
The capture of Huws was arguably even more significant. The young Welshman is an outstanding young talent and the type of player Latics are not usually able to sign. A price tag of around £3m would appear to be a lot for a team in the Championship without the TV revenue that it got in the Premier League. But in terms of getting a bargain for the future, Rosler has done a great job. Huws is only 20 and makes the kinds of mistakes one can expect from young players. However, with his cultured left foot, his determination in the tackle and ability to score from distance, he is going to be a top player.
More than anything the Huws signing is a statement about the longer term. Rosler and Whelan are clearly looking at a future that must surely be in the Premier League.
This season could be the turning point for Wigan Athletic’s future. Can Latics keep defying the odds and continue to punch above their weight? Without Whelan pumping big money in can Latics compete with clubs who have bigger fan bases and commercial backing? If they get back into the Premier League can they survive? If they don’t get promotion what would happen next? Would it be a slide down into the lower divisions?
A week ago Rosler’s squad was not complete. It lacked another central striker and a creative midfielder. Moreover the returns from injury of Chris McCann and Ben Watson were weeks ahead and there was a need for more cover in holding midfield.
Rosler has built a formidable squad, with at least two players competing for every position. Even if injuries strike, as they have done so cruelly for Wigan Athletic over recent years, there are very capable players in reserve.
Promotion seems a much closer possibility than it did a week ago. Other alternatives are not open to consideration as the promotion push starts.
With Dave Whelan and Uwe Rosler at the helm Latics are the envy of most clubs. They make a formidable pair. The future will be rosy if they stay together.