Player dealings in the summer both incoming and out left a lot to be desired. No adequate back up for Will Grigg and Powell and Gomez both failed to live up to previous spells. At the back, we were hasty breaking up the Pearce and Morgan partnership, even though Burn and Buxton proved solid replacements. Never mind though, as we signed about 8 million midfielders.
Even so, 14 players in and a poor start to the season 14 games in was hardly untypical for Latics and I think we were incredibly hasty in sacking Gary Caldwell just as we seemed to be turning the corner. This wasn’t the Coyle or Rosler era when we had a huge budget, our objective was to stay up and we weren’t too far off at the time. I could tolerate Caldwell being fired, so long as we got it right with the next appointment. I simply haven’t got enough words to describe why Warren Joyce was completely the wrong appointment. Three managers in a season tells its own story. We’d have been better off sticking with the one we had.
Highlights (if applicable)?
I think the highlights ended when we battered Blackburn 3-0 in August. I enjoyed the win on a freezing cold Monday night at Huddersfield in November but I suppose even then there was something niggling away that told me we weren’t going to win many games playing like that every week.
Who would you like as the new manager?
I’m quite open minded but whoever it is going to be is going to need the full support of the fans and the board. Caldwell’s title winning tenure is somehow getting painted as a disaster in some quarters so he is out, and there are fans who don’t want Uwe Rosler back for similar reasons. All of which goes to show that it will be impossible to keep everyone happy.
Reading up in the Bedfordshire press about Nathan Jones, he looks to be an excellent candidate. Yet he also talks of his plans of taking Luton Town very far and I’m not sure whether moving to Latics now would be a good career move for him. It is also telling that he had a very rough patch early on but overcame it with the backing of the board and the fans. If he came here and had a bad start to the season, well, you know the rest.
Maybe having Graham Barrow in charge for a while has served as a useful buffer in between Joyce leaving and the next manager coming in, thus ensuring that he gets more buy in from all sections of the fans. Barrow the Buffer has a certain ring to it.
Early hopes for next year?
Well, seeing as we have been taking the mickey out of Bolton for their ridiculous over-celebration of NOT being Champions, then we need to win the league basically! If we can keep the bulk of the squad together, then we should be strong enough to challenge for promotion but if we don’t for whatever reason then we need to accept that we are in transition.
If we don’t set off like a house on fire, then I hope that precious commodity, patience, is in abundance rather than the constant nagging that Caldwell had to suffer in our last League One campaign because we weren’t fifteen points clear in October.
We’ve achieved great things under the managers we’ve stuck with through sticky spells like Jewell and Martinez so we do have a blueprint. Finally, I hope that the home crowds don’t drop too much. Wigan Athletic have had 20 years of success that a team like ours could never have even dreamed of, the least we can do is continue to support the team now they are really going to need it.
Article first published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 12th May 2017
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