THE King is dead, long live the King. Just over a month after the greatest day in Wigan Athletic’s history, Owen Coyle settled into Roberto Martinez’s old seat and outlined his plans for the future.
The top priority, of course, is winning promotion back to the Premier League, with Latics slipping out of the top-flight just 72 hours after lifting the FA Cup at Wembley.
The subsequent departure of Martinez to Everton and appointment of Coyle means Latics will have a new man – with a new vision – for a campaign that will see them compete in Europe for the first time.
Latics have much to thank Martinez for, and his achievements in this town will never be forgotten.
A club legend as a player, he cemented that status during his four years as manager that saw Latics reach dizzy heights they’d only previously dreamed of.
No pressure then, Owen.
But listening to the new man speak at his unveiling on Monday, it was clear the Scot won’t be daunted by the challenge of following Martinez.
Far from it.
While lauding Martinez – ‘a tremendous manager and a very good man’ – Coyle was quick to point out his head-to-head record with the Spaniard during his time with Bolton saw him lose only once in eight matches. Ah yes, his time with Bolton.
That old chestnut.
How can someone possibly come over from Bolton and be accepted as one of us?
Well, Ali Al Habsi made a pretty decent fist of that, sweeping the board at the Player of the Year awards in his first campaign at the DW.
Al Habsi proved himself to the Wigan fans with consistency and quality on and off the field, and before long his past with Bolton became a stick to beat them with, rather than him.
And it has to be the same with the new manager.
Coyle’s CV is impressive to say the least.
Sure, it includes relegation with Bolton in 2011/12, but the CV of Snr Martinez also includes demotion from the top flight and that doesn’t make him a bad manager.
Dave Whelan’s footballing credentials compare with anyone’s in the game.
And having interviewed some ‘top-class candidates’, Whelan insists Coyle is ‘the right man for the job’.
As the chairman was quick to point out, he’s got it right far more often than he’s got it wrong over the years.
Speaking to Coyle in his office prior to his maiden press conference, what came across was his boundless enthusiasm and his unwavering belief that he can and will succeed at Wigan.
“It won’t be easy,” he told me. “It will only come through hard work, and through everyone being in it together – the players, staff and the fans.
“That’s always been behind any success Wigan have achieved, and we’ll need that to be the case next season, with everyone signing from the same hymn sheet.”
Such support will be crucial, particularly at the start with such a high player turnover from last year.
Belief has been the buzzword that has underpinned so many good times at Wigan in recent times.
With the nucleus of a squad that many feel is too good for the Championship, Latics are more than capable of getting back into the big time under a manager that is proven at this level – and has a point to prove.