Wigan may look back at sacking Uwe Rosler as a big error now the club are in League One. Rosler recovered a dire situation to take Wigan to the Championship play-offs before he was let go in November. To be fair, Wigan started the season badly and it continued to go downhill under Malky Mackay. The slide ended up in relegation and now former player Gary Caldwell is back to try and guide a side that were in the Premier League not long ago, at least back to the Championship.
Last Season: Championship (23rd)
Manager: Gary Caldwell
GKs: Richard O’Donnell, Lee Nicholls
DFs: Reece James, Andrew Taylor, Donervon Daniels, Craig Morgan, Juan Carlos Garcia, Leon Barnett, Jonjoe Kenny, Jason Pearce
MFs: David Perkins, Max Power, Chris McCann, Don Cowie, Sanmi Odelusi, Emyr Huws, Jordan Flores, Ryan Jennings, Michael Jacobs, Tim Chow, Francisco Junior
FWs: Will Grigg, Craig Davies, Billy McKay, Grant Holt
In: Donervon Daniels (West Brom), Craig Morgan (Rotherham United), David Perkins (Blackpool), Richard O’Donnell (Walsall), Max Power (Tranmere Rovers), Sanmi Odelusi (Bolton Wanderers), Craig Davies (Bolton Wanderers), Will Grigg (Brentford), Reece James (Manchester United), Michael Jacobs (Wolves), Francisco Junior (Everton), Jonjoe Kenny (Everton)
Out: Ali Al-Habsi (Reading), Kim Bo-kyung (Released), Gaetan Bong (Brighton & Hove Albion), Emmerson Boyce (Released), Scott Carson (Derby County), Marc-Antoine Fortune (Released), Rob Kiernan (Rangers), William Kvist (Released), James McClean (West Brom), Jermaine Pennant (Released), Oriol Riera (Deportivo La Coruna), Andy Delort (Caen), James Tavernier (Rangers), Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Doncaster Rovers), Martyn Waghorn (Rangers), James Perch (QPR)
First Six: Coventry City (A), Doncaster Rovers (H), Scunthorpe United (H), Gillingham (A), Crewe Alexandra (H), Chesterfield (A)
Likely Lineup: (4-4-2) O’Donnell – James, Daniels, Morgan, Taylor – Power, Perkins, McCann, Chow – Grigg, McKay
A word from…Nathan Ellington
On his time at the club The best three years of my career, it was only ups when I was there, we kept adding to the squad and the togetherness we had was something you could only dream of. It was a squad that really got on and that showed on the pitch every week.
We knew each other very well, our strengths and weaknesses and we played to those. When you feel sharp and you’re confident that’s when you’re at your best and that was us almost every week even when we got into the Championship. We didn’t get many injuries, everyone stayed fit and that gives you the best chance to do great things.
On momentum When you’re used to winning that mentality is massive. People don’t realise how much that plays a part, a player could have a completely different mentality in a different part of his career and show different form. We knew whoever we came up against we could hold our own, we came up with that momentum and we had a continuity in the squad whereas others were changing their team. It does make a huge difference.
We had so much strength in all areas and we relished that, that’s all we needed to be a force. We were in League One at the time but we had a Championship standard side, we deserved to get where we did, if you’ve had a team together that is confident that can be better than a team with players who aren’t as confident.
On leaving the club I never wanted to move, I never wanted to leave Wigan. Circumstances that happened during that season meant I couldn’t stay, I wouldn’t have been doing myself justice.
I signed a deal that said I could renegotiate a new deal if we went up and that wasn’t given to me, they said nobody was getting a new deal until we stayed in the Championship. I’d been top scorer in the league, I played the majority of the season injured with a shoulder that was popping out all the time but I just felt a little let down.
I thought, I’ll prove myself in the Championship, so I sacrificed a year of an increased wage just to play as I wasn’t too fussed about the money side of things. If you deserve to get a rise and it’s written in your contract you expect that to be stuck to, so I was playing in the Championship on my League One contract. I improved my goal tally again and we got promotion to the Premier League and still the club weren’t offering a good deal.
I had conversations with the chairman that didn’t go well, I have nothing against him, Dave Whelan was a really nice guy but when my agents came up to sort a new deal, he wasn’t there, he was away on holiday and I thought that was a bit disrespectful. The person who was in charge wasn’t able to make any decisions, my agents drove from London twice and it was a waste of time, it just started to feel like they didn’t want to keep me there.
At the time, I had my first child on the way, I couldn’t go into my final year with no security when I had a child on the way. It was a big decision I had to make and I was really upset having to do it. It was Bryan Robson and West Brom that had just stayed up that came in with an offer, it was nothing against the club because they got where they got without paying out loads of money and I think the chairman wanted to keep doing it. I had nothing against him for that, he did really well with the business side of things but it just started to drag out a bit.
A lot of people think I just left but that wasn’t the case, I never wanted to leave but it got to a point where I couldn’t really stay. On my way to West Brom, Wigan offered me a deal that was £1000-per-week less than what I was getting and I would have signed if they’d offered that earlier. I would have stayed on less money because I loved Wigan and I wouldn’t have thought about leaving. But I just didn’t feel like that it was dealt with right up to that point, I hated the fact I had to as I felt I’d have an amazing season playing with that team in the Premier League but you can’t go back in life.
On following the club I still love the club, every time I go down there and go past the stadium it brings back memories. I’ve met up with Dave Whelan at games and it’s really nice going back there.
I always watch them, see how they get on and wish them well. It’s just one of those things now where players are wanting to leave for bigger things after relegation, you see many teams that come down that then go down again because so many things change and the momentum disappears. I really hope this is where they can kick back on.
It will be difficult now because you’ve got to learn each other’s game when so many players have come in but the better the players are the quicker they will adjust. They’ve got a lot of ins and outs going on and it’s about who can handle the expectations quickest, I don’t know many of the players coming in but I hope they’re good players that will improve the squad.
The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: Wigan have invested more than enough this summer to put together a side capable of a return to League One. They’ve got a man in charge who knows the club and a good core of players more than good enough for the level they’ll be playing at. Supporters will expect at least the play-offs this season.
Key Player: Craig Morgan – At 30 years old, Morgan has amounted over 300 appearances in the football league and still has plenty to give, especially at League One level. With several young defenders coming in around him, his experience and know how will be very important if Wigan are to make a go of it this season.
One to Watch: Tim Chow – Seemingly on his way out of the club under Malky Mackay, he was given the final games of the season to impress Gary Caldwell, getting in on the goals on his first start for the club in April. At just 21, Caldwell may have just handed a lifeline to a player capable of starring in League One.