As far as transfers went during the summer window, there were arguably few more surprising than Charlie Mulgrew’s deadline day move from Blackburn Rovers to Wigan Athletic.
The Blackburn club captain, who had made over 100 appearances for Rovers following his arrival from Celtic in the summer of 2016, and skippered the side in their 2-1 defeat to Charlton on the opening day, now found himself making the temporary move to one of his parent club’s rivals, both in terms of locality and their position in the Championship, meaning this isn’t a move that many are likely to have seen coming.
But speaking in the aftermath of the deal, Rovers manager Tony Mowbray revealed that the move had been sanctioned due to the 33-year-old’s desire to earn more game time, with the Scot apparently behind the likes of Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams and Tosin Adarabioyo in the pecking order at Ewood Park.
Initially however, those first-team opportunities were something that Mulgrew would be made to wait for.
While he was handed his debut for Wigan in a 1-0 defeat at home to Stoke in the opening round of the Carabao Cup, Mulgrew first league start for the Latics would not come until the end of August, when Paul Cook’s side drew 0-0 with Barnsley, a game in which Mulgrew impressed, even highlighting his ability from set-pieces with a free-kick that rattled the Tykes woodwork.
Should Wigan look to make Charlie Mulgrew's move from Blackburn permanent?
For a time, that would be a turning point in the Scotsman’s time at The DW Stadium, with that starting a a run of eight straight games in the Wigan starting XI for Mulgrew, who formed an effective partnership in the centre of defence with Chey Dunkley, something which would prove fruitful at both ends of the pitch, with a pair of Mulgrew corners setting up his fellow centre back to score both goals in a 2-0 win over Charlton in September.
Indeed, Mulgrew’s impact and influence has been so strongly felt that he was even handed the captain’s armband in the absence of the suspended Sam Morsy for their 1-0 over Nottingham Forest last month, a game in which the Scot again found the post with a free-kick.
After that however, Mulgrew has found his game time once again limited, this time by injury, after limping out of a 1-0 defeat at Derby just days after that win over Forest, with the Scot absent from the matchday squad in for the two games since then, neither of which the Latics have won.
Given that impact, it is perhaps no surprise that Wigan boss Paul Cook has already hinted that he would like Mulgrew to stay at the club beyond the end of the season.
Considering the run he had been enjoying prior to that knock at Pride Park, it may not be quite as big a shock were Mulgrew to want to confirm that move again this summer, as it was the previous time around.
With Blackburn’s own defence was again ransacked by injuries however, you do have to wonder somewhat, whether they will actually be willing or able to let that happen.