With the 2016/17 season over and a considerable amount of time before next season kicks off, some football supporters feel they are in somewhat of a football-barren limbo -a period that severely lacks matchday pies and rainy away days. Especially for Wigan Athletic fans, transfer activity seems scarce for supporters of a club who keeps their cards very close to their chest when it comes to the realm of the transfer carousel. This is why here at AllOutAttack we have decided to rundown the last decade of the Latics’ history before the start of the new season by asking: Where Are They Now?
Stretch your cranium back ten years to the 2007/08 Premier League season, where we start our trip down memory lane. It was Wigan’s third season in England’s prestigious top flight and the 30th season since the club was elected into the Football League in 1978 – a content season to commemorate three decades as a professional football club by finishing in a satisfying 14th place and even holding the very top spot in English football for the first time in the club’s history, albeit only after a smattering of games. However, in true Latics fashion, we followed our table-topping with a winless run of ten games that left us in the dreaded bottom three before newly reappointed manager Steve Bruce steadied the ship and led Wigan to a solid midtable finish.
The season didn’t exactly have an abundance of scoring attacking prowess and lacked on the goals front but a robust defence kept the team strong to secure safety in the Premier League. This is the team that made that happen and where they are now:
Chris Kirkland – #13 – 134 total Latics appearances
Wigan’s versed goalkeeper, and England international, started in every league game in the 2007/08 season and was a vital cog in the defensive machine at the Latics – earning the Players’ Player Of The Year award for that season. Kirkland left Wigan in May 2012 for Sheffield Wednesday after falling out of contention between the sticks. After 90 appearances for Wednesday he moved to Preston and then Bury before leaving the Greater Manchester club before the season had even began for personal reasons. As of January 2017, he is currently coaching the goalkeepers at Port Vale as a favour for his friend and former Latic Michael Brown.
Mario Melchiot – #25 – 101 total Latics appearances
The preeminent Dutchman was captain for this season. After three years at the club, Super Mario moved to Qatari club Umm Salal to become captain there two before retiring in 2011 after 17 years of football. Melchiot is now a regular pundit for FOX Sports USA as well as expressing his punditry and footballing expertise across other international sporting mediums. The 40-year-old also runs his own blog that he updates weekly.
Titus Bramble – #19 – 104 total Latics appearances
Bramble made 27 appearances in the 2007/08 season across all competitions. His most notable highlight of the season was undoubtedly his 20-yard strike at Anfield against Liverpool to equalise late on and grasp Wigan a vital point. Bramble left for Sunderland for a fee of £1million and was released from the Tyneside outfit at the end of the 2012/13 season. Titus is now the coach of the Under-11 side at Ipswich Town; the club that started his footballing career.
Andreas Granqvist – #4 – 15 total appearances
Despite only making 15 total appearances in a blue and white shirt, the ever-present Swedish international started the most out of the other defenders that occupied the second centre back position. Currently, as well as captaining the Swedish national side, Granqvist still plays and captains Russian side FC Krasnodar.
Emmerson Boyce – #17 – 298 total Latics appearances
Latics legend Emmerson Boyce needs no introduction. One of the greatest players to don a Wigan Athletic kit, Boycey made 27 appearances during his second season at the then called JJB Stadium and further cemented himself as a fan favourite of the Latics faithful. Now retired after a short spell at Blackpool, Emmerson talked to AllOutAttack exclusively about his coaching role back at the club he was so prominent for. Boyce is also an avid ambassador for the charity Joseph’s Goal and appears at regular events for the foundation.
Antonio Valencia – #16 – 89 total Latics appearances
Valencia was signed permanently in January 2008 after impressing on two loan spells and proved that he was worth his £5,000,000 price tag by being one of the more distinguished players across his 33 appearances that season. After leaving for Old Trafford for £16million in 2009, considered to be a replacement for the departed Cristiano Ronaldo by Sir Alex Fergurson, Valencia has continued to be apart of the Manchester United setup and made 43 appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils, his most recent being in the Europa League final victory over Ajax.
Michael Brown – #11 – 64 total Latics appearances
Hard tackling midfielder Brown was deep-rooted in the Wigan squad – proven by his 29 starts during the 2007/08 season – before falling out of contention with manager Roberto Martinez and leaving for Portsmouth in 2009. The 40-year-old has now undertaken the position of player-manager at newly relegated club Port Vale following their relegation to League Two at the hands of Bruno Ribeiro.
Paul Scharner – #18 – 174 total Latics appearances
The idolised Paul Scharner was the standout player of the 2007/08 campaign and even secured the Player Of The Season award for his magnificent efforts in his 39 starts across all competitions. Following his retirement after winning the FA Cup in his second spell at the club, Scharner moved back to Austria with his family and told AllOutAttack of how he has set up an organisation that helps young footballers and gains them international experience with his organisations extensive links. The Austrian also hinted at a move into coaching but, as of yet, isn’t with a professional club.
Kevin Kilbane – #8 – 84 total Latics appearances
Proficient Ireland international Kilbane started 36 times during the campaign and became a mainstay at the left hand side of the pitch. After his retirement from football following a stay at Coventry City, the 40-year-old is now a proliferant pundit on TV and radio as well as a columnist for the Irish Daily Mail. Kilbane also has a a degree in Professional Sports Writing and Broadcasting and is a dedicated patron of the Down’s Syndrome Association.
Emile Heskey – #9 – 88 total Latics appearances
Whilst never the most prolific of strikers, Heskey always played an integral role in the attacking half of the pitch and worked as a decent defensive forward, even if his statistics are less than flattering. During the campaign, Emile only scored 4 and assisted 2 but his strong stature caused problems for defenders and helps the team as a whole. After calling an end to his 18 year playing career after he was released from Bolton, the former England international continues to make various TV appearances and works with the Playon Pros alongside David James and Lee Hendrie.
Marcus Bent – #23 – 32 total Latics appearances
Despite Wigan’s top goalscorer of the campaign with 7 goals during his season long loan spell, Bent’s time at the Latics can be described as somewhat forgettable. Bent left football in 2011 after playing for Sheffield United to start a new career in the oil trade. In September 2015 he was charged with affray and possession of cocaine after calling police as he believed intruders were in his house and was subsequently tasered by the responding police as they found Bent under the influence of drugs and brandishing a cleaver. He was given a 12 month suspended prison sentence and 200 hours of compulsory unpaid work for the incident. In June 2016 he was fined after being found with cocaine at the children’s theme park Chessington World of Adventures. If only he was as exciting on the pitch as he is off of it…
Chris Hutchings’ tenure as manager was short lived. Hutchings succeeded the departed Jewell, whom he was assistant manager for, but was sacked on 5th November following a run of six successive defeats. Hutchings was most recently assistant manager at Burnley.
Steve Bruce took charge of Wigan Athletic, for the second time of his managerial career, from the 19th November 2007 and stopped the rapid downfall of the side during the campaign. Bruce is now the manager of Championship outfit Aston Villa after resigning from Hull City in 2016 and aims to take Villa back to the top tier of English football.