Chris McCann became Owen Coyle’s first signing as Latics manager on 26 June after agreeing to move to the club at the end of his contract at Burnley, meaning that the 25-year-old would be straight into training on the first day back, something he admitted was a blast from the past.
“I said to Stephen Crainey a few days ago that when I came in for the first time it felt like my first day at school because I didn’t know anybody before coming here.
“I’ve played against a lot of the lads before and I’ve played with people that they know but never actually alongside them.
“When I was at Burnley I played with Steven Caldwell so I know of Gary through him and Brian Easton at Burnley is good mates with James McArthur so it kind of broke the ice a little bit.”
Latics’ seven new signings have soon settled into life at the club, with new forwards Marc-Antoine Fortune and Grant Holt already notching their first goals in blue and white and McCann believes a team spirit has quickly been created.
“It’s been a really good start to life at the club and I’ve said to a few of the boys that they’ve made me feel really welcome even though I’ve only been here for a few weeks.
“It’s a friendly group of lads and everyone gets on really well, it makes for a bright start for us.
“We’ve struck up a good bond as a group and that’s what we’re going to need the most this year because togetherness can help you through a long season like the one ahead.”
With Latics set to play at least 55 games this season, McCann added that the experience of the players in the squad will be essential in what he described as a long campaign.
“The Championship can be a bit of a slog because Saturday-Tuesday can take its toll and we’ve got Thursdays as well.
“We need a big squad this season because we’re fighting on four different fronts although, the league will take priority because we’re desperate to get the club back into the Premier League.
“The gaffer has brought in some excellent signings and we’re gathering some strength in depth which is going to be essential.”
From his previous experiences, McCann sees no reason why the current squad can’t achieve their goals.
“I’ve played in the Championship for all but a season of my career, I’ve seen what it takes to do well in the division and I don’t see why this team can’t be up there come next May.
“I think it’s going to be a really good squad this year and everyone’s just looking forward to it.”
During Latics’ current tour of the USA McCann has already featured twice, in midfield against Columbus Crew but at centre back in Tuesday’s 6-1 victory over Dayton Dutch Lions.
The Irishman said he had played in that position before and found it comfortable:
“I prefer to play in midfield and that’s where I’ve always played but the gaffer needed some help with defenders on Tuesday because we had a few missing.
“I played centre back for Owen a couple of times at Burnley, I felt really comfortable and I don’t mind being used in a versatile way.”
Knowing the manager from his days at Turf Moor, McCann expressed his delight at the way things are going under Coyle’s management at Wigan Athletic.
“From what we’ve seen already from the gaffer I think it’s clear that he’s relentless and he doesn’t stop.
“He always encourages people and gives them praise but at the same time demands a lot and when you’ve got a manager with that kind of enthusiasm and confidence it rubs off on the players.
“We all see that enthusiasm and it makes it a joy to come into work every day.”