SHAUN Maloney believes Wigan Athletic paid a high price for their lack of consistency during the campaign.
Latics saw their attempt to retain their Premier League status fall at the penultimate hurdle on Monday night, as they went down 2-1 at QPR in the Championship play-off semi-final.
Uwe Rosler’s men gatecrashed the play-off picture thanks to a superb second half of the season, when they showed promotion form to rise from the lower reaches of the table to the top six.
However, a slow start to the campaign under previous boss Owen Coyle left them with far too much to do, and there was precious little left in the tank when it mattered.
Maloney believes the upturn in fortunes since Rosler took over should stand them in good stead for next term.
“We now know what’s needed to win games in the Championship, and we have to do it on a regular basis,” Maloney told the Evening Post.
“It’s not going to be any easier than this season, and I know we’ve got a few boys who are out of contract now.
“But that’s just part and parcel of life at a football club – players come and go.
“We’ll just have to make sure we’re that little bit better next season.”
It was a frustrating campaign for Maloney, who missed more than six months following hip surgery before returning just in time for the run-in.
But the 31-year-old feels there is huge reason for optimism under Rosler.
“It’s pretty difficult to look at the bigger picture just now,” Maloney added.
“There’s been so many ups and downs during the campaign.
“I wasn’t actually with the team for a long time, but the manager coming in after around 20 games really changed the mood and the ethos of the club.
“From the position we were in we shouldn’t really have made the play-offs.
“Some players will be going on holiday, some players still have international matches and some very lucky players have the World Cup to look forward to, and then we’ll come back raring to go.”
Roger Espinoza, Juan Carlos Garcia (both Honduras) and Jean Beausejour (Chile) are all in their respective nations’ World Cup squads.
Former Latics striker Franco di Santo was yesterday named alongside Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero in Argentina’s provisional 30-man World Cup squad.
Di Santo moved to German side Werder Bremen last summer after his Latics contract expired.
And Alejandro Sabella deemed him worthier of a call-up than Juventus’ Carlos Tevez, who failed to make the cut. The final 23-man squad will be named on June 2.