DAVE Whelan reckons it could take new boss Uwe Rosler until the New Year to knock his Wigan Athletic squad into shape for a promotion push.
Rosler picked up his first win as Latics boss at the weekend courtesy of the 3-2 derby defeat of Bolton.
Most of the damage was done in a stirring first-half display, which saw Latics take a 2-0 lead and play some real champagne stuff.
Bolton levelled matters in the second period before Callum McManaman popped up with a crucial winner.
Latics, having come into the game on the back of a gruelling trip to Slovenia in midweek, were hanging on at the death for the three points.
And the chairman says one of Rosler’s first task as Owen Coyle’s successor will be to increase fitness levels across the board.
“One thing that is showing itself at the moment is that our boys are not 100 per cent fit,” Whelan said. “I had suspected that when I’d been watching them train under Owen, and what he was doing with them.
“It’s going to take the new manager at least a couple of weeks to get the lads where he wants them.
“And you could see from Sunday’s game that one or two were dropping dead before they came off the field.
“Uwe has got a lot of work in front of him, but I like what I see so far.”
Whelan was disappointed to see the club bow out of the Europa League having come so close to qualifying from the group stages.
The heartbreak of elimination was exacerbated yesterday when Maribor, whose victory over Latics for second spot in the group, were paired with La Liga giants Sevilla in yesterday’s round-of-32 draw.
But Whelan is hoping the lack of European football in the second half of the campaign could yet prove to be a blessing in disguise.
“We’s played Thursday, Sunday, now Wednesday and then Saturday, and it is a massive fixture list in front of us,” he added. “Hopefully that will settle down now with us being out of Europe.
“A lot of people would have preferred us to have carried on in Europe, and I certainly would.
“But you’ve got to look at the bright side of every situation – is it good for the club and the players?
“It’s a lot to be playing three games every eight days, it’s a lot of games. It’s been a particularly hard week, but I thought we came out of it with colours flying. Hopefully we can settle back on the road to promotion.”