12th Man – 2016 a year of contrasts

title-winners

League One winners in May 2016

We have now reached the half-way point in the 2016/17 Championship season and the success of last season’s glorious League One campaign feels like light-years away.

That special day in Blackpool when Latics celebrated the League One title is in stark contrast to the despondency which currently envelops the DW Stadium.

The optimism of pre-season has been swept away in the space of only five months. Gary Caldwell’s team had finished last season with a run of only two defeats between January and May.

Whilst this season Latics have only won four in twenty-three games and are mired in a relegation battle.

Caldwell had revamped the squad at the beginning of this season by adding 14 new faces, and although the team had initially failed to gel, most fans were far from despondent and expected results to pick up.

The sacking of Caldwell came as a big shock for most supporters. The club had made great progress under the former Scotland captain and there appeared to be a long-term plan in place.

However, owner Dave Whelan and chairman David Sharpe became impatient and made a decision they are probably now regretting by dismissing a good up and coming manager.

The appointment of former Manchester United reserve coach Warren Joyce was a risky decision and this has proved to be the case, and has only compounded Latics’ lowly position in the table.

Joyce was untried at Championship level having spent the last eight years in the protected atmosphere of reserve team football and a more experienced manager might have stabilised Latics after Caldwell’s abrupt departure.

Joyce’s cause hasn’t been helped by the current injury crisis, but the new manager has struggled to make a positive impact and to get the best out of Caldwell’s squad.

The transfer window should offer some new options but Joyce needs to review his tactics and formations if the players are going to believe in the manager’s methods.

Some players are certainly not giving 100% for Joyce and this was evident in the first half at Rotherham.

There will need to be a significant improvement in all departments if Latics are to stay up. However, they are still only four points away from safety and there are several equally poor teams around them so it is still possible for them to escape the drop.

Another major sea-change is required at the club, but it is certainly not an impossible task if everyone decides to pull together.

This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 30th December 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, Warren Joyce, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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