When we think of great strikers for Wigan, we always think David Lowe, Greame Jones and Nathan Ellington, yet we have never I think associated it with our current main man Franco Di Santo. The Argentina striker has always been considered a bit of a flop in football.
We signed him two years ago for £1.2 million and we had to ask why? The striker had scored one goal in his senior career and the rest of his stats didn't add up.
He was a bit of a bit-part player, talented in lots of areas, yet not one major key factor that made him a star or a player you wanted to see play. That was shown in a first season for Latics in which he managed only one goal. Even that £1.2 million was looking like a waste.
Last season though, we began to feel that maybe this pigs ear could actually be a silk purse. He was exceptional for large parts of the season, chasing players down, holding the ball up and scoring goals, in total he got six last season. A great return for a striker who doesn't score many.
So at 23 years old, a lot has been expected of him this season. Franco would be the leader of the line, the go to man and hopefully he would score more than the six he did last season.
So far the signs have been better than good! Yet what has changed about Franco?
Has he worked out more and become more physically stronger? No he was always strong on the ball and winning headers, and he is still doing that. Is it his work rate? No he Franco has always been a tireless worked and give his all for the team.
For Di Santo his belief and confidence to score goals has been the key thing. How many times over the past two seasons, would Franco have missed the goal against Everton? Most likely nine out of ten. Yet he didn't. He has that strikers arrogance and confidence to hit the ball and find the net.
It is strange how just one thing can change a players playing mentality. The additions of Arouna Kone and Shaun Maloney have really helped bring his game on as well. Whereas before Franco was young and inexperienced leading the line, he now is flanked by two players who have been there and worn the shirts.
The partnership between the three of them is fantastic. They are the three players leading the line and pushing for glory week after week. Can anyone remember the last time we had three players playing like that? It included an on fire Hugo Rodallega flanked by Charles N'Zogbia and Tom Cleverly. Can you see the resemblance?
Martinez has moulded the players together that we now have to work in such beautiful harmony, and a lot of what we are seeing now, is the reincarnation of several tactics used throughout the past three years as Wigan manager.
Currently that means that as a group we are playing well, and we have a striker brimming with confidence who has bagged three goals in five starts this season. Now that isn’t a bad return by anyone’s standards.
I think I am right in saying, watch this space Franco maybe the next big thing to come out of Wigan.