GARY Caldwell reckons Wigan Athletic are ready, willing and able to thrive on the pressure of being the big boys in League One this season.
Latics kick-off their campaign at Coventry this afternoon as the bookies’ favourites to bounce back from the disappointment of relegation.
The outside pressure shouldn’t really affect us, because we have demands and standards from ourselvesGary Caldwell
Of course, it was a similar story 12 months ago, only for Latics to somehow find themselves in the bottom three at the end of the season.
Caldwell, though, is adamant it will be a different story this term, and his side will not be hampered by expectation and pressure.
“The pressure has got to come from within,” the Latics chief acknowledged.
“I put pressure on myself to do the job as well as I can.
“I put pressure on the players to perform and to play.
“The outside pressure shouldn’t really affect us, because we have demands and standards from ourselves.
“If you want to be a top footballer, you have to play under pressure.
“There’s no getting away from that, there’s no point in trying to play it down.
“We will be under pressure, we accept that and we’re ready for that challenge.”
Caldwell is also backing his side to send out a real statement of intent at the Ricoh Arena.
“You’re not going to win or lose the league on the opening day,” Caldwell assessed.
“But it’s very important we set our standards and say: This is what we’re going to be this season, and put down a marker.
“I have seen an improvement throughout the games in pre-season, and the players need that competition now.”
One man poised to play a central role this afternoon is Will Grigg, Latics’ new £1million striker on whose shoulders much of the goalscoring burden will rest.
Chairman David Sharpe promised the fans he would land a 20-goal-a-season striker, which has not been seen at Wigan for over a decade.
And Caldwell reckons Grigg will rise to the challenge.
“He seems that way to me – typical striker, confident, a bit cocky, and he knows he can score goals,” he added.
“Everyone’s going to ask questions a striker if he’s not scoring goals, but he’s ready for that.”
Caldwell expects to be able to call on centre-back Jason Pearce this afternoon after the ex-Leeds man recovered from a leg injury.
However, he will be without Don Cowie, Tim Chow, Emyr Huws and Grant Holt.