Starting this League One campaign on -8 points, Shaun Maloney’s Wigan Athletic had a mountain to climb from the second a ball was kicked.
Yet, fast forward to the four matches played in the third tier so far, the Latics remain unbeaten with their last outing providing the standout result of their season to date.
Wigan shocked Bolton Wanderers in a Greater Manchester affair this weekend, Charlie Wyke and Stephen Humphrys both scoring doubles as Shaun Maloney’s Latics won 4-0 against a side that had won three on the bounce prior to this contest.
Derby Day delight for the Tics. 😍
— Wigan Athletic (@LaticsOfficial) August 19, 2023
Wins against Northampton Town and Derby County – alongside a hard fought draw away at Carlisle United – have allowed Wigan to dream again after the dreaded points deduction verdict. Now, as a result of winning three and drawing one from their opening four games, Wigan have hauled themselves out of the relegation zone with two points now next to their name.
What has allowed Wigan to believe in themselves again? What’s the secret behind this early on-field success? Here are a few reasons as to why the Latics are succeeding so far this season…
Charlie Wyke’s Goalscoring Form
It’s no surprise to see Charlie Wyke firing in goal after goal at League One level, a deadly striker at this level throughout his career with the likes of Sunderland and Bradford City.
Now, he’s showing off his goalscoring prowess in a Latics shirt – Wyke scoring five goals in his first four matches this campaign. Alongside Stephen Humphrys, who netted his first two strikes of the season at the Toughsheet Community Stadium, Wigan have an attacking lineup that can strike fear into third tier defences.
It’s also great to see Wyke fit and healthy again after his cardiac arrest in 2021, the 30-year-old attacker on top form for Wigan early into this campaign.
Youngsters Coming In And Impressing
Youngsters coming into the Wigan line-up have impressed in the infancy of this season too, particularly figures such as Sam Tickle in goal for Shaun Maloney’s men alongside Charlie Hughes who has starred at centre-back position.
Both products of the Wigan Athletic Academy – with Hughes previously at Manchester City and Liverpool at youth level before joining the Wigan set-up – Tickle and Hughes have really impressed especially the young goalkeeper who has attracted interest from the Premier League.
Tickle and Hughes were integral in Wigan keeping a clean sheet away at Greater Manchester rivals Bolton, Ian Evatt’s usually free-scoring Wanderers registering 20 shots on goal but unable to find the back of Tickle’s net.
Charlie Hughes’ early season form has also softened the blow of Jack Whatmough’s departure from the DW Stadium, the former Latics defender moving on to Championship Preston North End. He’s even scored this season, helping Wigan along their way to their first home win against Northampton.
— Official Wigan Athletic Supporters Club (@WiganAthSC) August 19, 2023
Familiar Faces Back At The DW
Wigan’s recruitment has seen them bring back familiar faces to the DW, with one of the returning players scoring an excellent goal versus Northampton Town at home to clinch three points recently.
Callum McManaman is back at the Tics for his third spell, the 32-year-old winger a popular figure. He was even more popular when his driving run with ten minutes remaining on the clock was powered home versus the Cobblers, Wigan’s number 20 ecstatic with his first goal back in Latics’ colours.
Kelland Watts has also returned back to Wigan, a second loan spell to the Greater Manchester outfit from Newcastle United. Plagued with injury issues last campaign on loan at Peterborough United, Watts has slotted back into the set-up at the DW and will be another solid option in defence for Maloney’s Tics.
Shaun Maloney’s Presence As Boss
Formerly a Wigan fan favourite as an exciting option through the middle of the park, Maloney is now beginning to endear himself to the DW faithful as boss.
Only losing seven of his matches in charge of the Latics – which includes Wigan’s turbulent back-end to the last Championship season – Maloney is beginning to win games as Wigan boss with three wins from the first four early on in the third tier.
If Shaun Maloney can keep this up, he could well spearhead an unlikely promotion charge for a Wigan side that did have eight points deducted to their name.
Maloney should, therefore, be praised as his Wigan side have let their football do the talking so far and will hope his side can continue to defy the odds.
Continuing The Good Form?
Wigan’s next three games do look tough on paper – with Barnsley, Blackpool and Charlton up next – but the Latics will not go into these games fearing the strengths of their counterparts.
Rather, Maloney’s men will go into these contests buoyed on by their unbeaten start in the division and ready to pick up even more points. Even if their early season form begins to fizzle out and they come back down to Earth, Maloney’s men have plenty to proud of from their first couple of contests in League One.