At the beginning of the season many fans, my self included, doubted that Latics could make a quick return to the Championship. The relegation season had been a disaster both on and off the pitch and we had the youngest chairman in the Football League and an untried manager in charge.
But the club has undergone a massive transformation and we now sit just one point behind league leader’s Burton Albion. Promotion is within our grasp and the league title a realistic proposition.
Gary Caldwell has always shown great self-belief that he would be successful and the target for him has always been the league title. In one of his early media interviews he bravely said that having seen every team in the league, he thought Latics should win it.
Not only is the club looking a good bet for promotion, but they are also playing good football. Caldwell has built a team, which thrives on possession, builds from the back and plays the ball on the ground.
Caldwell always prepares very well and researches the opposition, but the main priority has always been to get his own players performing at their best.
The manager has always said they would take one game at a time and yet there has always been a long-term strategy to get Latics promoted.
Player recruitment has been excellent with some expected successes in captain Craig Morgan, goalscorer Will Grigg and creative midfielder Michael Jacobs.
But also some players who could have been seen as a risk have made a big impact, in particular, midfielders David Perkins and Max Power signed from relegated clubs Blackpool and Tranmere.
Caldwell has continued to add greater quality as the season has gone on with the recruitment of winger Yanic Wildschut, striker Ryan Colclough and midfielder Sam Morsy.
Caldwell has also made great use of the loan system by bringing in Everton striker Conor McAleny and the experienced defender Stephen Warnock from Derby County.
As well as building a team strong on ability for League One, the manager has always stressed the need for belief and desire, and his team seem to have it in abundance.
The Easter fixtures showed Latics winning in some style 4-1 at Swindon Town on Good Friday, but also grinding out a hard-fought 1-0 victory over an in-form and stubborn Rochdale team on Easter Monday.
Latics have come back from losing positions on numerous occasions this season. The team’s resilience was demonstrated at Colchester, when Will Grigg produced a 90th minute equaliser after two long distance strikes and a dubious penalty had threatened to end the unbeaten run.
Against Rochdale, Latics’ determination to succeed was typified by vice-captain Jason Pearce’s superb blocked tackle early in the first half, which denied Rochdale a great goalscoring opportunity.
Caldwell has created a group of players with a winning mentality. Latics are now unbeaten in 18 games and with 7 games to go they could well remain unbeaten until the end of the season. With the other teams at the top now feeling the pressure, Caldwell’s belief that Latics will win the league title is likely to come to fruition.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 1st April 2016.