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Free-scoring Latics springing Championship surprises - Interview
Friday, 24th Aug 2018 08:29 by Clive Whittingham

Wigan have made a bold start to life back in the Championship following last season’s promotion – we asked Latic Chris Marsh how he’s enjoying the Paul Cook revolution.

Bounced straight back last season, as did the other two relegated teams – does that say more about the gap between Championship and League One or am I downplaying Wigan’s achievement?

Firstly I think Shrewsbury were very unlucky eventually to fall away and not get promotion. Both us and Blackburn were ultimately too strong for them, our squads helped and they couldn't cope with injuries and suspensions in the same way we could in the final months of the season.

I think in our case, a big factor in "bouncing back" was being able to keep most of the squad together and supplementing it with a few very good additions. The likes of Grigg, Jacobs, Morsy, Max Power & Reece James had all won the League One Title previously with us and that experience was very important.

There is a gap between the Championship and League 1, and I think it's only going to get bigger the more foreign investment in Championship clubs happens, as they chase the dream of promotion to the land of milk and honey. You could argue that the gap between League 1 and the Championship is widening, as the gap between the top of the Championship and the Premier League seems to be closing.

Tell us about the summer transfers – a lot of loans it seems, how do you assess the business done?

Keeping hold of certain players and not making too many changes was imperative this summer in my opinion. We somehow managed to sell Dan Burn but keep him, and I think every single Latics fan is over the moon that Nick Powell is still turning out in a Wigan Athletic shirt every week.

The return of Lee Evans from Sheffield Utd is a great bit of business, I felt that losing him last January was the reason we didn't wrap the league title up till the final day.
As far as the loans are concerned, Reece James (a different one) from Chelsea and Antonee Robinson from Everton have been great additions. Two young fullbacks, hungry for experience and the opportunity to show their parent clubs what they can do. We've strengthened all over the pitch, and are more than ready for a crack at the Championship.

Mixed bag of results to start with (written prior to Stoke on Tuesday) lots of goals at both ends, what have you made of it?

We've been unlucky not to be sitting pretty with three wins from three and nine points on the board, but ultimately that we've seen how not taking your (very good) chances can and will cost you at this level. Last time we were relegated, we had the best defensive record of all the teams in the bottom half of the table. We have solved the problem we had that season with regards to scoring at the other end, we just need to sort the defence out and we'll be fine.

A back four (and goalkeeper) with an average age of early 20s and no Championship experience is showing exactly that at the minute but both supporters of Aston Villa and Forest have both said after the two games that we were unlucky not to win. Once Dan Burn is fit again I'm sure we'll stop shipping goals and start winning more games.

You went through two inexperienced managers in your relegation year, but have Paul Cook now. Is that the main reason it’ll be different this time?

Possibly. I had a lot of time for Gary Caldwell and thought it was harsh he was sacked when it happened. Warren Joyce on the other hand the less we say the better.

Cook seems to be a very good manager, and is reminding a lot of us of Paul Jewell and his tenure at Latics. A chirpy Scouser who seems to know how to get the best out of the lads. He likes to get the ball down and play, he likes to keep possession but it's not tiki-taka for the sake of it. It's purposeful. He doesn't ever want to seem to sit back and just defend. His team will always attack and keep attacking until the end. The players seem to really enjoy playing for him and yes, he gets results. Hopefully we can keep hold of him long enough to have a good tilt at promotion out of this league.

Anything in these Chinese takeover rumours?

It's been on the cards for ages now, and they were spotted in the posh seats with Mr Whelan on the opening day of the season. Why it is taking so long I'm not quite sure. There's a fair number of our fans getting slightly giddy and the talk of a Hong Kong billionaire and whatever "Transfer Warchest" that might bring.

Me, I'm a little more sceptical. The Whelan Family, especially young David Sharpe and Jonathan Jackson have done and absolutely brilliant job of looking after Wigan Athletic in recent years, and it will be a sad day when they are no longer involved. It's rare these days to have people running your football club who have supported it for 20-odd years, more in some cases.

Having said that, some of the money thrown around by some clubs in this division over the summer has made it clear that to try and compete for promotion, we need some sort of investment. I just hope that we don't end up as another Portsmouth.

Where is the team strong and where is it weak? How do you see the season going?

We are very strong going forward. We could've and probably should've scored five in the first half an hour on Saturday against Forest. At some point it will click and we will give someone a hammering. That must be a worry for you having conceded as many as you did against West Brom.

Weakness - again we aren't looking too good defensively, with a back four/five that are
young, inexperienced and have hardly played together.

Season-wise I think we'll do ok. Our aim has to be 21st and above but I do think there are more than three teams in this league who are worse than us. If we can tighten up at the back and carry on scoring like we have then two goals a game is promotion form, right? [Joke].

One thing we can say is that it will never be boring. That's one thing Wigan Athletic never is. Either on or off the pitch.

Links >>> Chris contributes to The Pie At Night podcast… >>>> …and the Mudhutter fanzine >>> Our reciprocal interview with Chris

The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords, @elbalson

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traininvain added 18:50 - Aug 24
Bloody hell this sounds ominous!

francisbowles added 09:00 - Aug 25
Great interviewee. Thanks.

TacticalR added 12:13 - Aug 25
Thanks to Chris.

You make some interesting points about the gap between League 1 and the Championship, and how Wigan managed to go back up.

Free-scoring? Definitely not something we believe in at Loftus Road.

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