Latics fans used to sing about Gary Caldwell being Superman, but will he be a super success as a manager? Wigan’s young chairman David Sharpe has acted very quickly and some would say too hastily in appointing an untried manager to lead the club.
Caldwell has an unenviable task of trying to pull off a miraculous escape from relegation with Latics eight points from safety with five games remaining.
But if Caldwell is able to lead the club to safety he will go down in Wigan Athletic history as the man who achieved the greatest of great escapes.
No one really expects the former Scotland captain to do it, but problems could arise next season when Wigan will be expecting to make a speedy return to the Championship.
The club has already undergone a massive exodus of quality players under Malky Mackay. Many of the remaining established players contracts are coming to an end and others are on short-term loan deals.
Caldwell will have to transform the playing squad and quickly build a team fit for promotion.
Somewhat bizarrely David Sharpe said the club did not approach any other candidates following Mackay’s departure.
“Gary is the only candidate we considered because we are so convinced of his qualities,” Sharpe said.
“He knows who we are as a football club and shares the same football philosophy.”
It is seems rather strange that Sharpe did not even consider at least speaking to some of the very well qualified and experienced managers currently available.
It could work out to be an inspired appointment or it could be a disastrous one. Caldwell was regarded as both a heroic and comedic figure during his time as a player.
He helped lead Wigan to Premier League survival on a number of occasions but he was also capable of some major defensive blunders, which cost the team vital points.
Sharpe’s intention is that the former Latics, Celtic, Hibernian and Newcastle player will be able to re-create the successes of the Paul Jewell, Steve Bruce and Roberto Martinez eras.
But it will be a tall order as all these men had experienced managerial successes at other clubs before taking the helm at Wigan. Caldwell was a good leader on the pitch but that doesn’t always transfer to a managerial position.
Desire and commitment are not the only characteristics required to be a successful modern-day manager. Caldwell has been working through his coaching badges but the theory doesn’t always translate into the reality on the pitch.
Tactics, man management, motivational skills and bringing in the right type of players will all be crucial if he is to be a success.
He does have the experienced coaches Graham Barrow, Eric Black and Mike Pollitt alongside him, but the move from playing into management has often proved too difficult for many ex-players.
It is certainly a high-risk strategy for a club that is now onto its fourth manager since winning the FA Cup in May 2013. The challenge ahead should not be underestimated.
Wigan are in a downward trajectory and Caldwell has a massive task to turn the club around. It looks like we are soon going to find out if Gary Caldwell really is Superman.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on 10th April 2015