Gary Caldwell admits he’s relishing the opportunity to pit his managerial wits against both Jose Mourinho AND Jurgen Klopp on a real feast of football weekend at the DW.
Wigan Athletic entertain Manchester United this afternoon (1.30pm), before hosting Liverpool tomorrow (4pm) as they continue their preparations for the new campaign.
And Caldwell aims to jump at the chance of chewing the fat with two of the best bosses in the business to aid his own managerial development.
“Yes, I hope to be able to do that,” acknowledged the Latics boss. “I think any manager will tell you if you get the opportunity to speak to two of the best managers, not just in English football but world football, then you’d be mad to not to speak to them and learn from them.”
As well as the manager, it’s also a big day for the Wigan players and football club as a whole on a weekend when they’ll return to the media spotlight they enjoyed in the Premier League not long back.
“It’s great for the club, to have the kind of scrutiny that this weekend will bring from the media and everyone,” Caldwell recognised.
“The support we’ll get from our fans and also the United fans, with it being Mourinho’s first game, will be great.
“It was something I was very eager to do, get Premier League opposition here, as an incentive to the players.
“I want to show them that this is the challenge – if you want to go up into the next league, this is the standard you need to get to.
“We did that last year, when we played a few Championship teams as we tried to let the players know where we were aiming for. This year is no different, we want to aim high and we want to keep trying to improve.
“To have Manchester United and Liverpool here on consecutive days, I don’t think there’s much more of a challenge you can face.”
Caldwell intends to field two separate squads for the games, with his senior players all hoping to play at least three-quarters of either game.
“We’ll be looking at the squads for both games on an individual basis,” the Scot revealed. “And we’re looking at players playing in the majority of either game, because we want to build up the minutes.
“Two teams each played 45 minutes (in the friendly against Braga) last Saturday, and it was the same again at Chester in midweek.
“And I hope the players will be ready to play 70-80-90 minutes now as they build up.
“We’ll try and make sure the teams are varied, and different partnerships are working with different people.
“I know everyone’s really looking forward to both games immensely.”
And Caldwell has one extra thing to remember ahead of this afternoon’s visit of Mourinho – a ‘special’ of bottle of wine for the self-confessed ‘Special One’!
“I heard Jose didn’t get Sir Alex (Ferguson) a great bottle once, and I know these managers like their wine!” Caldwell laughed.
“I know the one at the DW isn’t great, so I might need to get one in!”
Fans are remind tickets are no longer available for today’s game against United, while tickets for tomorrow’s game against Liverpoool must be purchased today as there will be no sales on the day.