The 12th man column: ‘I hope Sharpe knows what he’s doing’

Gary Caldwell wore a protective mask playing against Liverpool
Gary Caldwell wore a protective mask playing against Liverpool

Our 12th man columnists give their thoughts on Gary Caldwell’s sacking.

I hope you know what you’re doing. That was my first reaction to the sacking of Gary Caldwell. There seems to be more than a suggestion that it wasn’t just David Sharpe’s decision to remove Caldwell from his post as they had always had such a cordial relationship.

It has been a poor start to the season, the points tally bears that out. Yet performances (in my opinion and mine alone) have been actually quite decent.

The Brighton game which sealed the manager’s fate was a classic case. For 60 minutes, we were the better team despite us being in 22nd and Brighton being in 3rd. We created several chances and had a disallowed goal. Yet Brighton did what any team did who are at the top of the table – they had the confidence to create something out of nothing to take the lead and from there on in took control of the game.

That little word – confidence – or more specifically, lack of it, is often put forward as a valid excuse for players under-performing. It used to wind me up something rotten in the Premier League, that someone earning millions of pounds per year to do a job could possibly lack confidence in their ability to do it.

Yet this team of players, many of whom have been brought together over the summer, did not lack the heart, application or passion to do their jobs, they simply were falling a bit short in a few areas.

Gary Caldwell is mobbed by team-mates after scoring the winner at Anfield

Gary Caldwell is mobbed by team-mates after scoring the winner at Anfield

Those fans calling for Caldwell’s head will state it is because of the manager’s over-complicated systems and formations which caused this to be so. A system many have claimed without a hint of irony is both completely inflexible and constantly changing to the point of being over-complex at the same time.

I have always perceived us to be not like any other club and bought into the prospect of building a long term plan which begins with having consistency in the management team.

For me, sacking the manager felt way too soon and waiting till January would provide a fairer reflection, or at least the next two games.

It could be that Caldwell might have taken us back down but relegation is not the end of the world, for any football club. We’ve been here before remember and, like it or not, most realistic Latics fans recognise that the Championship is at least one division higher than where we belong.

For me it’s a massive gamble and considerably unfair on Caldwell

Barry Worthington

As it stands, six clubs have now fired their manager in this division, looking to stave off relegation and improve their form.

It does sometimes provide a magic formula but is very much a short term fix. Some of those clubs will still get relegated and possibly even realise that they were better off as they were. We were one of them two years ago when Uwe Rosler was replaced by Malky Mackay.

If they didn’t get paid so highly, I’d probably lament the fact that football managers everywhere barely get 18 months in a job now before they get the heave ho. This is the world we live in though, and I cautiously await the arrival of the next incumbent, hoping that he will produce the desired effect of getting this football club quicker up the table than Caldwell could.

Thanks for the memories and the trophies Gary. No hard feelings here, only sadness. I personally wish Gary Caldwell all the best and I look forward to him doing well somewhere else in the future where the fans and management properly give him time to learn his trade.

Martin Tarbuck

After six years and 10 months Gary Caldwell’s stay at Wigan Athletic ended abruptly on Tuesday afternoon around 5pm.

Following on from Saturday’s home defeat to Brighton, our seventh in 14 games, Latics chairman David Sharpe decided that it was time for Caldwell to go and bring in someone else to get us up the table, correct decision?

Only time will tell, but for me it is a massive gamble and considerably unfair on Caldwell who took us to the League One title at the tender age of 34, in his first managerial post just five months earlier. I understand the financial uncertainty that relegation would bring and the club feel that they must avoid the drop at all costs, but if we look back to last season there are parallels and we had a very slow start before kicking on in the new year.

The objectives will have changed from last campaign though, it would have been just one – promotion – this time around I am sure with the size of our budget and crowds compared to our Championship rivals the main objective would have been a lot more conservative.

So was Caldwell a victim of his own success? From January onwards 2016 was a sublime year for Wigan Athletic, we had the charge to the top of the League 1 table, our strikers were banging in goals, Will Grigg became known around the world, the fans were following the club in large numbers on the road and we won the division in style.

During the summer there was quite a bit of talk on social media and the various Latics forums about how we were going to simply continue the momentum and, though not many predicted outright promotion, there was talk of a flirtation with the playoffs, completely unrealistic with all things considered.

Once the realisation of the enormity of the task ahead as we faced teams of real quality sunk in supporters looked for a scapegoat, logically, to some at least, that scapegoat was the manager.

In fairness football is a results business and we haven’t been getting them, managers are judged on the results so the top and bottom of it all it is easy to argue that Caldwell has failed. But the bigger picture may tell a slightly different story, we haven’t been turned over by anyone, losing the games by just the odd goal and our performances in some of those defeats have been quite encouraging.

Last Saturday, though some may disagree, I believe we were the better side up until the wind was knocked out of us in the 67th minute with Dale Stephens’ splendid goal, the team did visibly deflate at that point but up until then we were good, they received a standing ovation at half-time and if Michael Jacobs, Dan Burn, Nick Powell or Will Grigg been a slightly bit more composed, or lucky, with their efforts we would have been in front.

But there is no use now going over and over the decision, it’s been made and we have to move forward, the right man for the job must be brought in, there have been names bandied about, some of which are a little optimistic but we need to trust the chairman to make the right choice and get his man in and let’s get points on the board and climb the table.

Thanks for the memories Gary, there have been many. Up the tics!

Barry Worthington

When the news broke about the departure of Gary Caldwell on Tuesday evening, I was shocked to see that we let the manager go.

It’s always a sorry sight when you see an ex-player lose their job. I feel we should have given him a bit more time, before we made such a big decision.

Football is a results business and the facts don’t lie, 2 wins in 14 league games, simply isn’t good enough.

Obviously the main aim for David Sharpe, is making sure we’re a Championship club next season.

Two years ago, the decision to sack Uwe Rosler, didn’t pay off and I hope this time around it does for the club’s sake.

There were no doubts about the players’ commitment towards the manager. As several players including, Donervan Daniels, Max Power and Alex Gibley, all taking to Twitter to say how gutted they were at hearing the news of his departure.

So what lies ahead for Wigan Athletic and Gary Caldwell?

I don’t think we should rush into any decisions when appointing the new manager, we’ve got to make sure it’s the right man, and a manager who’ll get instant results.

Ryan Giggs and Karl Robinson are the two early favourites with the bookies for the job. Eyebrows will certainly be raised if it’s either of them two who take the hot seat.

With not much managerial experience, it’ll definitely be a tough task for Ryan Giggs coming into his first job.

Likewise with Karl Robinson, only sacked from MK Dons a few weeks ago, after not having the best of starts to the League One season. Also his Championship record isn’t much better either, as it was his Dons side which got relegated last season.

Personally, Paul Lambert would be the man I’d pick as the next manager. He’s got a proven Championship record, guiding Norwich to the Premier league. Also he kept Aston Villa in the Premier league, whilst having all their off the field problems.

It may not be all doom and gloom for Gary Caldwell. If I was a betting man I’d certainly put a few pound on him being the next Scotland manager as Gordan Strachan’s time looks to be running out.

Only time will tell to see if we’ve made the right decision in sacking Caldwell.

With no away win all season and no manager, it would be typical of Latics to go to Cardiff and get a result tomorrow.

Joe O’Neill

Well there really isn’t a quiet day when you follow Wigan Athletic.

Personally, I was shocked by David Sharpe’s decision to sack Gary Caldwell as manager, and, to be honest, I have no idea whether it was the right or wrong path to take.

What I do know is the next move our chairman makes is absolutely vital for the long-term future of this football club; so many times before have we sacked or lost a manager, only to get our next appointment completely wrong (Owen Coyle and Malky Mackay being prime examples).

Having said that, I can see both sides of the argument. We were in turmoil before Caldwell took over and he worked wonders both on and off the field to win League One at the first attempt.

That’s why it could be seen as the wrong decision, because he deserved more time based on his achievements last season – big teams like Sheffield United have struggled to get out of that division since being relegated from the Championship back in 2011.

However, I can also see why it could be the right decision. There are many reasons why it hasn’t gone right this campaign and every one has their opinions, but football is ultimately a results business and two league wins from 14 games has left us second bottom.

We aren’t the only team struggling, but the other teams around us have acted to change their fortunes.

Two of them, Cardiff City and Rotherham United, were in a very similar position to us.

We all had inexperienced managers at this level (Paul Trollope – Cardiff and Alan Stubbs – Rotherham), who have struggled to pick up results in what is a consistency-based league.

The Bluebirds and the Millers both have both chopped and changed, bringing in the vastly experienced Neil Warnock and Kenny Jackett respectively. Both of hose bosses know this division inside out.

Cardiff in particular have reaped the rewards, winning two from two under Warnock and therefore climbing out of the relegation zone. Ironically, we travel to South Wales to play them tomorrow.

So it might have been the wrong decision to part ways with Caldwell, who’s been a great servant to the club, or it might be the right decision, because timing is everything.

For me, the only way it can be correct is if we appoint a respectable, experienced manager who can keep us in the Championship and then build on Caldwell’s rapid success.

If we make the wrong call and get relegated again, then the long-term future what Sharpe was talking about could be in serious doubt.

Kieran Makin

I didn’t realise that Gary Caldwell had been sacked until 7.30pm on Tuesday, a full two and a half hours since he had been relieved of his duties. I was busy trying to feed a fussy toddler and hadn’t bothered to check my phone, let alone take a look at twitter.

When I finally got round to checking my phone, the countless messages, the twitter explosion and the missed calls from Radio Manchester absolutely shocked me. Surely there was some mistake?

Things haven’t been great this season but sacking him?

Sacking him before we’ve even reached the end of October? Sacking him when we’re a win away from getting out of the relegation zone?

Sacking him following a four-game unbeaten run before Saturday’s defeat to third-placed Brighton?

I still can’t make sense of the decision. Last year was built on the feel-good factor and unity that Caldwell and his team brought to the club after two years of turmoil.

The foundations laid that were supposed to last us for years. It feels like all of that has been thrown away in haste, there were growing murmurs of discontent at the game on Saturday but up until that Brighton wonder goal we had more than matched another top of the table side and like Leeds a few days earlier we had deserved to be ahead let alone behind.

Yes there were issues, yes it hadn’t been good enough, yes we desperately needed to start winning games but if you’re worried that we haven’t carried the momentum of the League One winning season in to this the way to counter that isn’t by getting rid of the architect of that – at least so early.

Injuries have robbed the team of some of its more established squad members – Reece James, Andy Kellett, Donervon Daniels, Alex Gilbey and Kyle Knoyle who hasn’t even made an appearance yet.

Add to that new players settling in and last season’s side struggling it’s no wonder it’s been a sluggish start but we’ve got one of the best defensive records in the division and looked like we were on the verge of turning things around.

I feel like we’ve acted in haste and I feel for Gary Caldwell and his staff, he is far from blameless for our current predicament but equally I’m not sure we can lay all the blame at his door. I thought after last season he had done more than enough to earn a bit of loyalty from us. Sadly David Sharpe and the club hierarchy felt otherwise.

So where now? Some of the names being linked with the job are uninspiring at best whilst Ryan Giggs who seems to be favourite has even less experience than the manager we have just sacked for not having enough management experience.

This will be David Sharpe’s biggest decision to date if indeed it is Sharpey who makes the decisions, this is far more serious than when the hapless Malky Mackay was given his marching orders. I just hope he has made the right decision and we get the right man in to replace Gary Caldwell.

Time will tell of course but I’m worried at the moment, far more worried than I was on Saturday night.

No matter your thoughts on Gary Caldwell he’s been a presence at the club for well over six years, first as Captain second as manager. He’s been there through all of our highs and our lows. Last year was one of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve had watching Latics and that was down in no small part to Gary Caldwell. Cheers Gary.

Sean Livesey

It was surprising and disappointing to see Gary Caldwell dismissed as Latics’ manager on Tuesday night after only 14 games of the season. Caldwell’s team was only three points from safety with two thirds of the season still remaining. They hadn’t been beaten by more than one goal all season and if the team had accrued six more points they would now be sitting in mid-table.

The team spirit, determination and commitment of the players was good and they looked capable of putting a winning run together to move the club out of the relegation zone.

When Caldwell was appointed chairman David Sharpe said it was “an appointment for the long-term” and spoke about having a “blueprint for the future”.

So what happened to the long-term strategy, as short termism seems to have returned to Wigan Athletic?

David Sharpe was given the chairmanship when his grandfather Dave Whelan stepped down after the Malky Mackay debacle and Latics have made good progress under his guidance.

Sharpe was supposedly given autonomy by Whelan and took a risk by appointing Caldwell and backed his transfer decisions. This proved very successful as the club won the League One title and Caldwell won the LMA League One Manager of the Year.

The young chairman developed a good dialogue with the supporters on social media and endeared himself further by purchasing the training ground of debt-ridden rivals Bolton Wanderers.

Caldwell and Sharpe managed to reinvigorate the club after the dark days of Mackay and give the club a new belief. The former Scotland and Latics captain transformed the club, provided a vision for the future and a return to the style of play, which had been successful under Roberto Martinez.

Sharpe and Caldwell had established a good working relationship and it seemed that Latics had a long-term strategy for success. But that is all now in tatters as they look to recruit a new manager and it is not yet the end of October.

So what instigated the change?

Certainly results could have been better, but the team had only lost one in five games and they were showing signs of improvement.

The influx of 14 new players during the transfer window meant the team was slow to gel but there were positive signs that the mistakes of early season had been eradicated and the defence was looking more solid.

Some fans were critical of Caldwell but this was only a vociferous minority, as most fans in the recent @WigToday online poll think the decision to sack him was wrong.

So the biggest influence on Sharpe’s decision to sack Caldwell probably came from club owner Dave Whelan. Whelan will also have a big say in the next appointment, so much for saying he was taking a backseat.

Ian Aspinall

And now for something completely different...

Teletext: often emulated, never bettered.

“CORRECTION: Wigan Athletcc 5 (FIVE) Prest#n 0 Jasob Robarts 903mins”

On Sunday I shed a small block-shaped tear.

23 rd October 2016 marked precisely four barren years since the day Internet yuppies callously killed our good friend Ceefax in cold pixellated blood.

No more would we stare upon its up-to- the-minute football updates, anxiously hoping against every conceivable hope that Geoff Horsfield’s goal against Wigan Athletic was the result of a simple typing error at BBC Broadcasting House.

No more would we violently curse our team’s placement on the third sub-page of the Division Three table. And no more would we wonder if this mysterious An&y L%ddell chap could possibly be the heavily glitched twin of Sir Andrew Liddell – he did, after all, have an identical scoring record.

Where would we go now? How would we discover that Stuart Balmer had scored, only to learn that this information had been corrected to ‘Stuart Barlow’ some 15 minutes later?

And how else would we find out that the crucial Milk Cup tie between Fulchester United and Argleton Town had shockingly been postponed two minutes before kick-off on a baking hot summer evening? Those two big Ps always told you it was time to head for Fartington South Train Station once more.

1460-odd days into the post-Ceefax (P.C.) era, the situation is just as desperate.

Those attempting to fill the yawning crevasse left by teletext’s untimely demise have only been presented with information overload of the highest degree. Useful services once provided by televisual text platforms are now spread across the obtuse, unmanageable plains of flagrant garbage they (I) erroneously call the worldwide superweb.

Without a triple lifetime subscription to Geoff Spelling’s Cable Sports Snooze or the ever-reliable Football Magenta matchday results newspaper, you’re thrust into the ominous wasteland of crudge and flam I daren’t mention the name of again. Out there, many a soul has lost their (virtual) soul among cheap jibes and unwinnable bickering contests.

And that’s not to mention the utter fools that write into local newspapers to complain about the lack of television-based communication platforms from the 1970s. If anything, this article ought to be an attack on those types of people, whose gullets should b-

That’s enough now!

Dan Farrimond