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So what went wrong? – Erm…

This week's 12th Man column and the final of the season takes the form of a question and answer session? What went wrong? Well how long have we got...


 What went wrong?

 Where to begin? Everything that could go wrong last season did go wrong, and despite claims to the opposite it’s clear the club haven’t learned the lessons of 2014/15.

Although it’s fun for for those of us following at home the constant turn over of the squad is nothing but damaging. We finished the season as Champions in League One but didn’t have faith in those who had got us there to keep us there.

 The likes of Chris McCann, Conor McAleny, Jussi Jaaskellainen and Jason Pearce could have been the backbone of this season’s side. 

Instead we made a huge number of signings, again meaning that the side was completely different come the start of the season and needed another period of time to bed in. Time they may have got in League One simply wasn’t there in the Championship.

The sacking of Gary Caldwell exasperated the situation. Coming off the back of a decent run of form and a defeat against the league leaders shouldn’t have seen Caldwell lose his job. Certainly not at that time, but equally if we had looked to replace Gary Caldwell with a progressive manager with the right ideas about getting Wigan Athletic to fire things could have been very different. We weren’t destined for the drop when Gary Caldwell was sacked in October.

The fact that Warren Joyce couldn’t improve on our position in the table, is the reason we’re heading back to League One. Warren Joyce was admirable in his dedication to the role and seemed a genuine fella who wanted the best for the club but equally it was probably some of the worst football I have ever witnessed watching Wigan Athletic.

On so many occasions we seemed incapable of producing any attacking play of note or any sort of positive football. Arguably we went backwards under Warren Joyce and the decision to hire a man with no experience of Championship football, and someone who hadn’t managed a senior side in England for over 17 years will go down as one of the worst the club has made.

Just when we seemed to have turned a corner in January we completely unsettled the balance of the side with another huge recruitment drive with many of the players we signed not even fit enough to make the squad. It begs the question just who is in charge of recruitment at Wigan Athletic, and why do we have to sign a whole new starting eleven each transfer window.

Graham Barrow managed to get a reaction of sorts from the side, there was certainly more football and a lot more attacking intent in the last few weeks but an inability to kill off games remained. But the overall feeling was that the damage had been done in the previous eight months.

Highlights ?

It’s a season of lows and lows, I’m really struggling to remember a season as un-enjoyable as this. In terms of highlights the comebacks against both Barnsley and Rotherham gave us a glimpse of what we could have had if Nick Powell had been fit/played in the right way and was a throwback to the old days of those famous Premier League comebacks. Other than that the win over Burton was a good day out. That’s all I can think of. It’s a season I won’t look back on with all my sort of fondness.

Who would you like as the new manager?

I was asked this question a few weeks ago, and for the first time in years I genuinely don’t know who should be our manager and indeed who we should be aiming our sights at. We need someone who can get the best out of the remaining squad members. Someone who has the ability to win promotion and someone who can work in the new financial constraints, post parachute payments.

Both Uwe Rosler and Gary Caldwell have been linked with returns. I was a big fan of both, and don’t believe either should have lost their job when they did. Although I don’t think they should have lost their jobs, do I think they’re the right people to look at for a return? I’m not convinced.

Uwe has done a marvelous job with Fleetwood with far less resources than he had when he was with us, for that alone if it was a toss up between the two I would plump for Uwe.

But perhaps a fresh outlook is needed, Nathan Jones seems to be the favourite this week. I know nothing about him apart from he wants to be the best manager in the world and is currently in charge of Luton.

Michael Appleton who was badly stung in charge of Blackpool and Blackburn has done well to rebuild himself and his reputation at Oxford. Could he be an option?

Those four aside I am really struggling, Graham Barrow made a fair point earlier this week speaking to Paul Kendrick. Managers who have had a previous connection to the club are those who have been most successful, there’s no saying that will be the case this time around but someone who understands Wigan Athletic and the make up of the club wouldn’t go amiss.

Early hopes for next year?

Something more enjoyable than this last ten months, I’m not convinced that we will go straight back up but that has to be the aim for us. Bolton have managed to win promotion whilst under a transfer embargo and with a team full of free agents. That shows what can be achieved in League One if everything comes together.

I’m looking forward to the away days again and hopefully winning more than a handful of games all season. League One shouldn’t hold any fear for us but we need to get the next managerial appointment right. If we don’t we won’t be coming back to the Championship, let alone the Premier League any time soon.

Sean Livesey

First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 12th May 2017

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