12th Man – A season to remember

Gary Caldwell

Manager of the year for Gary?

The Latics promotion party has continued all week and there will be more celebrating on Sunday when they are presented with the League One trophy.

David Sharpe, Dave Whelan, Jonathan Jackson, Gary Caldwell, the coaching staff and players should all be congratulated for producing such an exceptional season to remember.

Latics have stormed back to the Championship, losing only once in the last 24 games and with a vastly superior goal difference over their rivals.

Leicester City’s Claudio Ranieri should win the manager of the year in the Premier League but Gary Caldwell is surely the manager of the year in the Football League.

Many thought it was a risky appointment when Caldwell took over last April. In his first appointment, the youngest manager in the league was tasked with getting Latics promoted and at the first time of asking.

It would have been too tall an order for many managers but Caldwell has delivered in spades. He has been steadfast in his football beliefs and stuck to his principles when things weren’t going so well.

Caldwell has built a team, which thrives on possession, builds from the back and plays the ball on the ground. He 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 was always a long-term strategy to get Latics promoted.

It was a brave decision to clear out most of last season’s team and it could so easily have backfired. But the recruitment of players has been very impressive with a mix of young and experienced professionals.

There were some expected successes in captain Craig Morgan, goal scorer Will Grigg and creative midfielder Michael Jacobs.

But also some players who could have been seen as a risk have made a massive impact, in particular, Player of the season David Perkins and runner up Max Power signed from relegated clubs Blackpool and Tranmere.

Caldwell added greater quality as the season went on with the recruitment of winger Yanic Wildschut, striker Ryan Colclough and midfielder Sam Morsy.

The manager also made great use of the loan system by bringing in Everton striker Conor McAleny and the experienced defender Stephen Warnock from Derby County.

The planning for this season started last April when Caldwell was first appointed and the board and manager are already looking ahead to next season in the Championship.

Latics will want to maintain the momentum from promotion and try to make a big impression next season.

They have the nucleus of a very good team but they will need to add more quality in key positions if they are to be challenging near the top.

I’m expecting an experienced keeper as back up for Jussi Jaaskelainen. Another centre back will be required to provide defensive cover for Craig Morgan, Jason Pearce and Donervon Daniels. Plus they are likely to add another striker to share the goal scoring responsibility with Will Grigg.

But whatever the signings the fans will be expecting more great things next season as Latics look to emulate Leicester’s incredible rise from League One since 2009.

This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 6th May 2016.

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Dave Whelan, David Sharpe, Gary Caldwell, League One, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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