12th Man: Feeling positive

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Wigan Athletic banner at Wembley

The inevitable finally happened on Tuesday night and Wigan were relegated to League One when Rotherham defeated Reading. It is difficult not to be a little despondent after a Championship season that promised so much ended in failure.

In pre-season the prospects looked good. Uwe Rosler’s team had reached an FA Cup semi-final, just missed out in the play-offs and player recruitment had seemingly gone well.

But the season had started poorly with Latics in the bottom three by mid-November and Rosler had clearly lost the dressing room.

Dave Whelan decided that a change in manager was necessary to give Latics a chance of promotion, but the controversial appointment of Malky Mackay was a huge risk and it was to prove a disastrous one.

Appointing Mackay as manager created a media storm and when Whelan tried to defend him matters only got worse. Mackay oversaw the complete break up of the FA Cup winning team and replaced them with journeymen and triallists.

The results deteriorated further with no home win during Mackay’s tenure and it was a relief for everyone when he was sacked.

The introduction of former Wigan and Scotland captain Gary Caldwell as manager was too late to avoid relegation, but he has given everyone hope that a return to the good times could be ahead.

Caldwell has instilled a good feeling amongst the fans and players and there is a belief that with the financial support of the Whelan family we can rise again. Already the style of football has improved under Caldwell.

Wigan have scrapped the long ball tactics of the Mackay era and returned to the passing game so successful under Roberto Martinez. Caldwell bought into Martinez’s methods and he will also have learned much from his time as an international captain.

A summer of rebuilding lies ahead as there will be lots of comings and goings. The loan players will return to their parent clubs and Latics will have decisions to make about Oriol Riera, Andy Delort, James Tavernier and Rob Kiernan who are all out on loan at other clubs.

Eight players are out of contract: Ali Al-Habsi, Marc-Antoine Fortune, Kim Bo Kyung, Gaetan Bong, William Kvist, Jermaine Pennant, Lee Nicholls and Emmerson Boyce. Some contracts may be renewed but many players will leave the club.

At least Caldwell knows the playing staff really well, unlike his predecessor, and he should be aware of what will be required for next season. He also has sufficient time to put together a squad capable of getting out of League One.

But whatever happens next season it is certainly never dull watching Latics: in the last three seasons alone we have played at Wembley four times; defied the odds to win the FA Cup; had a Europa League adventure; made the Championship play-offs; and been relegated twice. Few, if any teams, can have experienced such highs and lows in such a short space of time.

This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on 1st May 2015

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Championship, Gary Caldwell, Malky Mackay, Roberto Martinez, Uwe Rösler, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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