There’s no doubt that Wigan were the firm favourites for glory at the start of the season, with the Latics being one of the so-called big clubs in the Championship. However, it’s truly been a campaign to forget for supporters and over the international break the club opted to make a change in manager. The controversial Malky Mackay is the man who has taken over, although his first test is certainly difficult with the DW Stadium side preparing to host a Middlesbrough outfit who are up in 3rd.
After taking over last term, Uwe Rosler could do no-wrong. He transformed Wigan from a team battling in the lower reaches of the Championship, to one who finished in the top six. Additionally, they reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup meaning that in summary, it was a season to remember. For whatever reason, things just haven’t clicked this term though. Rosler was forced to pay with his job last week, while chairman Dave Whelan installed Malky Mackay as his successor. Having masterminded a promotion from this level with Cardiff Mackay certainly arrives with great pedigree, although he has some serious work on his hands to turn around this team who have won just one of their last twelve games.
Middlesbrough meanwhile are flying and it looks as though Aitor Karanka’s first full campaign in English football could be a fruitful one. There was plenty of optimism when he took over due to his reputation in Spain, but it’s only now that Boro are reaping the rewards. The club are only kept out of the top two due to goal difference, while the fact that just a point separates them from top spot means that they could be leading the division by the close of play on Saturday. Recent form suggests that could happen as well, with the club winning two of their last three whilst also only losing one of their last thirteen in all competitions.
It remains to be seen just how many changes Malky Mackay will initiate for his first game in charge, although he will have Andy Delort and Emmerson Boyce available again following spells on the sidelines. It’s not all positive for the home team though, with Ivan Ramis set to miss out through a hamstring problem. Middlesbrough on the other hand should be able to select Ben Gibson, even though he sustained an ankle injury in a game for his country during the week. Elsewhere, there should also be a place for Kenneth Omeruo after he represented Nigeria during the international period.
As for team news, the stats should suggest that this will be a straightforward victory for Middlesbrough. However, we just get the feeling that the new-manager effect will kick in for the home side and for that reason, we’ll tip a 2-1 victory for Wigan.