Has this been the worst-ever transfer window for Latics?
The net result:
- Charlie Mulgrew – chose to go back to Blackburn.
- Josh Windass – on loan to Sheffield Wednesday.
- the unwanted and largely untried Devante Cole signed for Doncaster Rovers.
IN (on loan):
- Alex Dobre – 21 year-old Romanian winger from Bournemouth. 36 appearances (2 goals) on loan at Bury, Rochdale and Yeovil over past three seasons.
- Jan Mlakar – 21 year-old Slovenian centre forward from Brighton. 6 Championship appearances on loan for QPR last season, no goals. Previously at Fiorentina, Venezia and Maribor.
- Leon Balogun – 31 year-old Nigerian central defender from Brighton. 8 Premier League appearances last season. A total of 85 appearances in the Bundesliga for Hannover, Werder Bremen, Fortuna Dusseldorf and Mainz.
- The Jedi move collapse was a shame for everyone. The fee will go down and dramatically so if Latics are relegated as seems likely given the fact the team is weaker than when the window began, and now Robinson is unsettled.
- Josh Windass out — who was one of the few rays of hopes in recent times when Cook started playing him (though sadly, it appears he was only played in order to shift him off the wage bill). A frustrating player but in the right hands could go on to be good at this level. He has a contract at Wigan until summer 2021. Is it a loan-to-buy deal with Wednesday?
- Mlakar – hasn’t scored for any single club except Maribor, which suggests he hasn’t adapted well culturally on or off the pitch in either Italy or England. Is he a desperation last minute addition?
- Dobre – scored one goal in 21 appearances for Yeovil in League Two. Lowe scored a bunch for Pompey in League One and has struggled. So… hopes are not high.
- Balogun looks the most positive on paper — experience and pedigree, at least. But no small detail: hasn’t really played football for two years.
Latics would surely have counted on the Jedi money and had some signings lined up. But they weren’t willing to spend the money when it fell through, in particular, given the perilous league position which is very much down to the manager’s poor performance at Championship level.
The new ownership is running this club as a business, unlike most Chinese owners, and if you do the math and statistical analysis, the crazy January spending most clubs do is bananas and loans are a good way to go.
However, if you do go the loan route you need a manager with credibility and Cook is hardly that. If you are Klopp or Guardiola, Ancelotti or Rodgers, do you send your talented young player who is finding their way to Cook? No — you send them to Cocu or Lampard or someone with a connection to the club or a defined style of play that will evolve rather than devolve them.
Now the optimistic look:
Kal Naismith and Cedric Kipre look good at centre back. Midfield is doing better. Lowe’s confidence should take a boost and he’s had half a season in the Championship, is clearly talented, and should improve. Kieffer Moore is also looking much better. Joe Gelhardt got his full debut out the way and perhaps he will be a sensation in this final stretch. The fixture list, particularly at home, is favourable.
The owners have backed the club with investments in the stadium and academy, spending over £8m in the summer transfer window, putting in up to £1m per month to cover running costs. They have a blueprint based upon prudent investment in player recruitment and the development of homegrown talent.
Despite the woes of the senior side the youth and U23 teams continue to shine, with great promise.