As Wigan Athletic prepare themselves to start the 2015/2016 season down in League One, following a dismal Championship campaign both home and away, we take a look at the rapid downfall of the club and whether or not they can turn things around soon and win promotion at the first attempt.
It’s incredible to think that just a couple of seasons ago Wigan were battling it out in the Premier League and winning the FA Cup. Whilst it was demoralising to drop out of the top flight in 2013 they once more battled away the following season to finish in the top 6 and win a spot in the play-offs which they eventually lost out to Queens Park Rangers after extra time.
But ask any Latics fan and this season has been a nightmare. But what are the reasons behind this mighty fall from grace?
In November 2014 the club appointed ex-Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay who was already a prominent headline figure caught up in some extremely controversial allegations. His former club provided the FA with evidence that Mackay had been involved in the sending and receipt of text messages that were deemed sexist, racist and even homophobic to former Crystal Palace sporting director Iain Moody. Moody himself resigned in August 2014 due to the accusations but to Wigan fans dismay, like many other neutrals, Mackay was signed to replace Uwe Rösler and help pull the club from the relegation zone.
The controversial appointment, which ultimately only lasted for 138 days, had a severely negative effect on the club; quite literally dragging the name of Wigan Athletic through the mud. To add petrol to the flames, what really didn’t help was the fact that Dave Whelan, in an attempt to defend his managerial appointment, somehow managed to slip in a few racist comments of his own. Subsequently Whelan was charged by the FA and sponsors Premier Range terminated their agreement. For a club struggling in England’s hypercompetitive second division, they needed every ounce of support they could get but the constant media pressure had an obvious impact on results.
Whilst the club had issues off the pitch the problems were still mounting on the field as the players were struggling to churn out wins. Although behind the scenes media attention would have been firmly on the mind of many players in the squad it was the January transfer window that saw the departure of a number of key players such as Shaun Maloney, Callum McManaman, Ben Watson, Ivan Ramis and Roger Espinoza. Losing that amount of talent in such a short amount of time without being able to replace them was always going to be difficult challenge.
Despite their rapid decline Wigan have had to fight adversity throughout their history and they always find a way to turn things around which is why they are amongst the favourites to win promotion straight back to the Championship with Ladbrokes bookmakers. The bright lights of the Premier League may seems a long way off, but first and foremost, the club needs stability on and off the pitch in order to secure promotion back to the second tier.