Been talking to a Wigan fan today, one who watched the Latics take on Tranmere in a pre-season friendly on Saturday. Turns out Darron Gibson was very impressive in that game and looks to have done enough to earn himself a one-year deal to play in the Championship next season.
The match was Wigan's opening friendly of the summer. It was also Gibson's first outing since he picked up a groin injury playing for Sunderland against Cardiff in January.
The former Manchester United and Everton man began the game and managed 70 minutes in his first appearance since being convicted of drink driving in April. That court appearance came after the 30-year-old had been arrested in March on his way to watch a Sunderland first team game. Last summer Gibson was also making headlines with a drunken rant about his teammates, filmed by guests at the Ramside Hotel in Durham.
By all accounts Gibson was roughly the best player on the park yesterday. Of course there's no doubt the Irishman has always possessed ability. He showed glimpses of that last season at Sunderland. For a period he was the most influential player at the club under Chris Coleman and had he stayed fit, avoiding relegation may have been more likely.
Clearly pleased to be back playing, apparantly Gibson made a special effort to afford the travelling Wigan fans some applause as he departed the pitch at Prenton Park.
Gibson's career has always been one of those "what might have been" ones. He joined Sunderland in January 2017, arriving on the same day as his Everton teammate Bryan Oviedo. He might not have cost the Black Cats much but his spell on Wearside was a frustrating one, beginning an ending with unsavoury incidents while under the influence and being marked by repeated injuries and spells of poor form.
If Wigan can be assured he has sorted out his demons, and if he can stay fit, he could be a great addition. As for Sunderland, Gibson will forever be remembered as one of many players who arrived at the club and proved to be a disappointment on the pitch and a disaster off it.