Gary Caldwell has hit out at his fellow League One managers for a ‘disrespectful’ snubbing of Wigan Athletic in the annual ‘Player of the Year’ voting.
The nominations for League One ‘Player of the Year’ came out earlier this week with, incredibly, no Latics representation on the three-man shortlist - compiled after every manager in the division put five names forward.
I think it’s disrespectful to the players because they’ve been incredible this yearGary Caldwell
Despite Caldwell’s men having gone 20 games unbeaten - and standing four points clear at the top with five matches to play - the chosen trio were Bradley Dack (Gillingham), Nicky Ajose (Swindon) and Romaine Sawyers (Walsall).
And Caldwell could not hide his disappointment in his peers for his players being overlooked.
“I think it’s poor, if I’m being honest,” the Latics boss admitted.
“I put my votes in, very honestly, based on who I thought were the best players in the league.
“I’m sure every manager in the league would not just take our players that are playing, but also the players on the bench, and even some of the players in the stand.
“I think it’s disrespectful to the players because they’ve been incredible this year.
“What they’ve done, this far, has been incredible.
“I’m glad I’ve got them, and a lot of them would be in my team of the year.”
Having been on the receiving end of barbed comments all season from rival clubs who have been quick to highlight Wigan’s parachute-payment advantage, Caldwell was quickly on the offensive.
“We’re not doing anything wrong,” he retorted.
“And I’ve never seen a budget sheet or a balance sheet win a game or win a title.
“It’s players that go out and do that, and I think it’s a little bit disrespectful to our players who have worked very hard and played some fantastic football.
“If you were being honest, you’d have to pick some of them (for the shortlist).
“If others have their own views, that’s up to them.
“All we can do is concentrate on these next five games.”
If results go their way this weekend, Latics could clinch promotion as early as next Tuesday, with a win at long-time leaders Burton.
And Caldwell insists that would be a perfect response from his players which would supersede any individual honours.
“The players have got bigger things to worry about, and the emphasis is on working hard in training and being ready for the last five games,” he added.
“I’ve said this before, when I’ve picked up a couple of individual awards myself, that they are great.
“But you play football to win as a team - to win trophies, cups, titles.
“These individual awards, which at the time you think are nice, are not why you play the game.
“You play the game to be successful as a team, and that’s our challenge - to be successful on May 8.
“That’s why, while some of them may privately be disappointed, they shouldn’t be disappointed.
“They are part of a very successful team - and the main trophy is still up for grabs.”