I hope you know what you’re doing. That was my first reaction to the sacking of Gary Caldwell. There seems to be more than a suggestion that it wasn’t just David Sharpe’s decision to remove Caldwell from his post as they had always had such a cordial relationship.
It has been a poor start to the season, the points tally bears that out. Yet performances (in my opinion and mine alone) have been actually quite decent.
The Brighton game which sealed the manager’s fate was a classic case. For sixty minutes, we were the better team despite us being in 22nd and Brighton being in 3rd. We created several chances and had a disallowed goal. Yet Brighton did what any team did who are at the top of the table – they had the confidence to create something out of nothing to take the lead and from there on in took control of the game.
That little word – confidence – or more specifically, lack of it, is often put forward as a valid excuse for players underperforming. It used to wind me up something rotten in the Premier League, that someone earning millions of pounds per year to do a job could possibly lack confidence in their ability to do it.
Yet this team of players, many of whom have been brought together over the summer, did not lack the heart, application or passion to do their jobs, they simply were falling a bit short in a few areas. Those fans calling for Caldwell’s head will state it is because of the manager’s overcomplicated systems and formations which caused this to be so. A system many have claimed without a hint of irony is both completely inflexible and constantly changing to the point of being over-complex at the same time.
I have always perceived us to be not like any other club and bought into the prospect of building a long term plan which begins with having consistency in the management team. For me, sacking the manager felt way too soon and waiting till January would provide a fairer reflection, or at least the next two games.
It could be that Gary Caldwell might have taken us back down but relegation is not the end of the world, for any football club. We’ve been here before remember and, like it or not, most realistic Latics fans recognise that the Championship is at least one division higher than where we belong.
As it stands, six clubs have now fired their manager in this division, looking to stave off relegation and improve their form. It does sometimes provide a magic formula but is very much a short term fix. Some of those clubs will still get relegated and possibly even realise that they were better off as they were. We were one of them two years ago when Uwe Rosler was replaced by Malky Mackay.
If they didn’t get paid so highly, I’d probably lament the fact that football managers everywhere barely get 18 months in a job now before they get the heave ho. This is the world we live in though, and I cautiously await the arrival of the next incumbent, hoping that he will produce the desired effect of getting this football club quicker up the table than Gary Caldwell could.
Thanks for the memories and the trophies Gary. No hard feelings here, only sadness. I personally wish Gary Caldwell all the best and I look forward to him doing well somewhere else in the future where the fans and management properly give him time to learn his trade.
First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 28th October 2016