Caldwell: Don’t look down!

Gary Caldwell
Gary Caldwell

Gary Caldwell refused to get too carried away despite guiding Wigan Athletic to the top of League One for the first time this season.

Latics came from behind to dismantle Shrewsbury 5-1 on Saturday, a result that stretched their unbeaten run to 19 matches.

After Conor McAleny restored parity just before half-time with a magnificent volley, second-half goals from Yanic Wildschut, Jason Pearce and Will Grigg (2) heaped on the agony for Town, who ended the game with 10 men following the dismissal of Zak Whitbread.

Latics have finally leapfrogged long-time leaders Burton, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Bury, with only six matches to go.

But the Latics chief will not be getting carried away by the hype - at least not until the season concludes on May 8.

“I didn’t look at the league table when we were 14th after four games and I won’t be looking now,” Caldwell said.

“We’ll focus only on the performance - we’ll analyse that and see where we can improve for next week.

“I thought there was 10 minutes in the first half where we lost control, we gave away too many corners and fouls in our half.

“They managed to score in that period, but we quickly recovered from that and Conor scored another magnificent goal to get us back in the game.

“The decision-making after that - both in the final third and in general - was disappointing, because I thought we could have been even more clinical.

“To be fair, we came out on the front foot for the second half and we were devastating with the way we finished off the game.

“I thought we could have scored even more goals - and that’s the most pleasing thing for me.

“I see a team that’s playing extremely well, yet I know we can get even better and there’s even more improvement in them.

“The players know that themselves, and they come in every day looking to work hard and get better.

“We’ve got great talent in the side and they’re a great group to work with.

“The way they go about their business is great for me, and it’s my job to push them harder because I believe a lot of them have great careers in front of them.”

Latics also saw the gap to third-placed Walsall increase to nine points, with the Saddlers losing 2-0 at Sheffield United.

But Caldwell refused to draw a correlation between Wigan’s incredible recent form and their rivals buckling under the pressure.

“I don’t know about that,” he added. “We just focus on winning games and improving as a team on a weekly basis.

“I think we’ve done that all season, and we try and stick to that process.

“Whatever happens elsewhere we can’t control.

“What we can control is what we do, and we’re doing it well - but we’ll work hard to do it even better next week.

“Every game at this stage of the season is difficult.

“You saw in the first half that there wasn’t a lot in the game.

“Until the sending-off, it was a very difficult match.”

Caldwell also refused to take any credit for the latest in a long line of absolute screamers from McAleny that dragged Latics back on level terms.

The on-loan Everton scored his fourth goal in his seventh Latics appearance - with all-but the scrappy winner against Rochdale last weekend coming right out of the top drawer.

This onewas a marvellous volley from 30 yards, after he had controlled the ball on his chest, with home goalkeeper Mark Halstead left utterly helpless.

“I could never teach Conor to do something like that,” Caldwell smiled.

“I could clear the ball! But I could never shoot like that.

“We’ve scored a lot of great goals this year - great individual goals and great team goals - but it doesn’t matter how they go in at the end of the day.

“As Conor will tell you, last week’s goal against Rochdale was every bit as important, if not more so.”