It was surprising and disappointing to see Gary Caldwell dismissed as Latics’ manager on Tuesday night after only 14 games of the season. Caldwell’s team was only three points from safety with two thirds of the season still remaining.
They hadn’t been beaten by more than one goal all season and if the team had accrued six more points they would now be sitting in mid-table.
The team spirit, determination and commitment of the players was good and they looked capable of putting a winning run together to move the club out of the relegation zone.
When Caldwell was appointed Chairman David Sharpe said it was “an appointment for the long-term” and spoke about having a “blueprint for the future”.
So what happened to the long-term strategy, as short termism seems to have returned to Wigan Athletic?
David Sharpe was given the Chairmanship when his Grandfather Dave Whelan stepped down after the Malky Mackay debacle and Latics have made good progress under his guidance.
Sharpe was supposedly given autonomy by Whelan and took a risk by appointing Caldwell and backed his transfer decisions. This proved very successful as the club won the League One title and Caldwell won the LMA League One Manager of the Year.
The young Chairman developed a good dialogue with the supporters on social media and endeared himself further by purchasing the training ground of debt-ridden rivals Bolton Wanderers.
Caldwell and Sharpe managed to re-invigorate the club after the dark days of Mackay and give the club a new belief. The former Scotland and Latics captain transformed the club, provided a vision for the future and a return to the style of play which had been successful under Roberto Martinez.
Sharpe and Caldwell had established a good working relationship and it seemed that Latics had a long-term strategy for success. But that is all now in tatters as they look to recruit a new manager and it is not yet the end of October.
So what instigated the change?
Certainly results could have been better, but the team had only lost one in five games and they were showing signs of improvement.
The influx of 14 new players during the transfer window meant the team was slow to gel but there were positive signs that the mistakes of early season had been eradicated and the defence was looking more solid.
Some fans were critical of Caldwell but this was only a vociferous minority, as most fans in the recent @WigToday online poll think the decision to sack him was wrong.
So the biggest influence on Sharpe’s decision to sack Caldwell probably came from club owner Dave Whelan. Whelan will also have a big say in the next appointment, so much for saying he was taking a backseat.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 28th October 2016.