Why Can’t Steve Bruce Leave Us Alone? The Wigan Athletic Fans' Guide To The Transfer Window

With £9.5 million expected for N’Zogbia and season ticket sales on the up this could be a year to build for Wigan Athletic, providing everyone leaves them alone.
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With £9.5 million expected for N’Zogbia and season ticket sales on the up this could be a year to build for Wigan Athletic, providing everyone leaves them alone.

It’s the silly season in football – do you love it or hate it?

I absolutely detest it. I was much more content just reading Page 312 on Ceefax once a day and picking up the local paper in the afternoon to find a little report in the corner telling me we’d signed some young buck from Cambridge on a month’s loan.

It feels like an extension of the campaign large sections of the media seem to wage against our little club during the season to ridicule and unsettle us over the summer as well. In the last week or so, the North East correspondent of the Telegraph wrote a story claiming Charles N’Zogbia had gone on strike to force a move which was utter b*llocks but then got copy and pasted around two million times around the globe.

There’s a very sneery overtone to a lot of the press which implies that a club like Wigan should just be grateful that bigger clubs want to come and along and take our players off our hands and the usual protocol around paying the going rate goes out of the window. Consequently they write what they like about us on the basis that we’ve got no fans and therefore no-one cares anyway.

This summer what are you hoping to read every time you check your club news each morning?

I like to read incisive, informative, well researched articles. Sadly what little there is happens to be buried beneath a salvo of utter sh*te from time wasting, misquoting b*stards. I suppose on the positive side, at least if the N’Zogbia thing was to drag on for another month or so, it might save us reading the usual round of nonsense about the rest of our players but it looks like it could be concluded soon with Alex McLeish getting his man. I can really see that working you know, N’Zogbia under McLeish ‘See lads, this here is Charlie, just boot it long to him and Charlie, youse get after it’ It could be Joe Kinnear Mk 2.

I’m not the football junkie I once was, heaven forbid a Championship Manager aficionado so on the basis that we can’t afford Premier League stars, I guess that the likelihood is we’ll get linked with players I’ve never heard of. Or Wayne Routledge. I think I prefer the former. I can’t help thinking there must be some decent young lads in the Championship or League One with the potential to step up who can bolster our squad but I don’t think we should be getting them from Leeds. (We’ve been linked with Snodgrass & Gradel recently) I do kind of share the outrage of Leeds fans. Why would anyone ever want to leave the former Champions of Europe for some poxy Lancashire mill town with thousands of empty seats?

Bruce is interested and has got his players publicly courting Charles N’Zogbia but is unwilling to pay the going rate, moaning about the fee and wages in the hope of getting him on the cheap.

What do you inevitably end up reading instead?

It’s the same stuff daily on a loop, the Villa/N’Zogbia debacle with rumours like wildfire, £9m, £10m, £14m, chairman going back on his word, Villa haven’t actually made a bid at all, player wage demands, it’s all blurring into one sea of extreme hype.

Everton are also interested but don’t have the cash so are offering us Yobo, Yakubu & Anichebe. Yes that sounds good – you can have our best player and in return we’ll take a load of sh*te off your hands. Bruce is interested and has got his players publicly courting Charles but is unwilling to pay the going rate, moaning about the fee and wages in the hope of getting him on the cheap. Maybe he could shut the f*ck up then – we’d love to buy Lionel Messi but we’re not crying to our friends in the press about it everyday in the hope of tugging on a few heart strings. He’s our player, it’s our decision whether to sell him, not your decision of how much you think you should be paying. Just to keep us on our toes, you can throw in the odd Rodallega to Stoke/Liverpool/Seville rumour so he doesn’t feel left out.

We launched our free summer special on Friday, a free 36 page Mudhutter fanzine, mostly new material which many of us slaved over for hours and it just got lost in 101 copy and pasted identikit N’Zogbia stories each no more than a paragraph long, I really don’t know why we bother sometimes.

Got much cash in the kitty?

We’ve not actually sold anyone for cash for the last couple of years, save a youngster to Hamilton Academicals so probably not as we’ve not had a lot coming in. A drop in the wage bill and an increase in Premier League prize money has helped, we’re closing the gap in operating losses but I suspect after making Al Habsi our first permanent signing for a fee believed to be around £4m, we’re banking on selling N’Zogbia before bringing anyone else in.

If we lose N’Zogbia and reinvest wisely we’ll be a much more solid, settled unit next season...

Hulking midfielder? Tricky winger? Big bastard defender? What types of players would you like to sign this summer?

The lad from Paraguay we’ve been linked with (Nelson Valdez) looks a player so official site news about him signing would be a welcome sight from the constant bullsh*t which is making my eyes bleed. The one thing we’ve never really cracked is who to play in this second striker/in the hole/attacking midfielder berth which is pivotal to the style Roberto Martinez plays and he could be tailor made for it. He may well go ‘ha ha’ and laugh and point like his namesake Nelson Muntz when he sees the wages on offer mind you. Still if you don’t ask you don’t get.

What types of player will you end up signing instead? An U21 Moldovan left back instead of Spanish international forward perhaps?

We’ll get a couple of loanees from big clubs and expect to be thankful for it by rolling over and gifting them six points again and not complain when their centre forward elbow our player in the face.

Martinez knows the Spanish market well but has been a tad hit and miss with it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he went back over there for someone. I think wingers are the best bet though or attacking midfielders, anywhere else is dangerous. We signed a Spanish centre half at the same time as Mohamed Diame called Antonio Amaya, he’s a big beast of a fella but he only played about two games in two years and got ruined in both of them, once by Lee Hughes of Notts County fame. Apart from those two chaps at Barca, decent Spanish centre halves are about as adept as English ski jumpers.

Who wants to leave the club and what’s your attitude towards them?

If you believe the rumours then again it’s that man Charles N’Zogbia but then this was going on all last season and he certainly didn’t look like a player who wanted to leave. The only game he really went off the boil was up at Sunderland, read into that what you will. He seems a tad aloof with the fans but maybe it’s just his French nonchalance. I can understand him wanting to play for a top club, he’s earned the right to do it but the trouble is that the top clubs don’t appear to want him. He’s supposedly already on a good wage at Wigan but is given the freedom of the park and has regained his place in the French squad.

My personal view is that he would have been an infinitely better bet for Liverpool than Stewart Downing but they clearly wanted a more conventional winger to feed Andy Carroll rather than one who can cut in and actually put the ball in the net himself.

Of the rest, well Everton, Villa, Sunderland, Newcastle are all clearly bigger clubs than Wigan Athletic but that and wages aside, what can they offer him that Wigan Athletic can’t? Maybe one of them will get into Europe but it’s not inconceivable that they will all finish in mid-table, which is hopefully where we will be next season.

Who has been the biggest tosser of this transfer window?

Steve Bruce again closely followed by Titus Bramble for continually talking about their former club’s players. Wigan Athletic treated both of them very well and they are showing us no respect whatsoever over N’Zogbia. Titus is tweeting about Charlie joining him up in Sunderland and doing interviews saying he’d love to team up with him again, Bruce is moaning about the price and wages involved saying it’s too rich for him, after receiving £24m for Darren Bent and £20m for Jordan Henderson. The North East pressmen seem to have it in for Wigan, constantly throwing a series of random words up in the air and coming back with a sensationalised story desperate to unsettle our players while Brucie does all his public weeping through them over money. His preaching of loyalty when Darren Bent left cut no ice around these parts after he ditched the club twice and I am sure his hollow words resonated through the likes of Birmingham, Crystal Palace & Huddersfield as well.

Sunderland have bought a lot of players and may do well this season but the way the man conducts himself means that if he fails, quite a few people will be delighted and the way he goes around sh*tting on his previous clubs means he’s one bad start to the season away from the dreaded far East coaching job. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke.

Reckon you’ll be stronger or weaker next season?

In terms of star players, probably weaker but as a team hopefully stronger if that makes sense. The key for us is not to have too many ins and outs and keep the nucleus of the squad together. If we lose one of N’Zogbia or Rodallega and reinvest the money wisely, we’ll hopefully be a much more solid, settled unit next season which will compensate the loss of a big name.

Any other news?

Season ticket sales are up 50% according to the club. So that’s probably only about 100 or so altogether but if that means there’s only 7,900 empty seats per home game rather than 8,000 well IN YOUR FACE TALKSPORT

What has been the best ever bit of business your club did in the transfer window?

Much as I’m loathe to admit after what I’ve written above, Steve Bruce signing Wilson Palacios for £1m and then flogging him to Spurs a year or so for £14m has got to be excellent business. The fact that the recipient of this deal was ‘Arry Redknapp and it was rumoured that we got the bulk of the cash up front makes it all the sweeter. He’s a good player like but £14m?

And the worst?

Mauro Boselli, a £6m signing from Estudiantes. On the rare occasions we’ve seen him in the penalty box he resembles a confused OAP who has just turned up at the Post Office only be told that it was pension day yesterday. We can’t afford to spend that kind of money, let alone waste it. He may get another chance this forthcoming season but all the signs suggest that we’re sending him back to Estudiantes on loan, after he spent most of last season on loan at Genoa. Unless we’re charging the loanee club £80k per week whilst we’re paying him £40k a week, this cannot represent a good business deal.

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