WIGAN chairman David Sharpe is adamant the decision to axe Malky Mackay in favour of rookie boss Gary Caldwell less than 24 hours later was the right call.
Relegation-threatened Latics moved on to their third manager of the season on Tuesday as former club captain Caldwell was swiftly appointed in a permanent capacity after Mackay’s disastrous five-month tenure had ended the previous day.
Mackay left the club languishing in the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone after taking just 19 points from a possible 72 and Caldwell, who at 32 is the Football League’s youngest manager, inherits a team eight points adrift of safety with just five games to go.
But rather than making an interim appointment until the end of the season, Sharpe made the bold call to hand Caldwell a rolling contract which will see him in charge at the DW Stadium next season, regardless of what division they are in.
“That shows how much I believe in Gary,” the 23-year-old Sharpe said.
“It’s definitely not just for the next five games, he’s got a free hit at it really. If he keeps us up it’s a miracle and if we go down it’s expected by everybody in this room but Gary will back himself to keep us up.
“This is a long-term thing and we’re looking forward to the future with him that gets us back to our identity on and off the pitch and bring the positive times back to this football club.”
The good times seem an increasingly distant memory for Wigan, who have had unsuccessful stints with Owen Coyle, Uwe Rosler and Mackay at the helm after winning the FA Cup under Roberto Martinez two years ago.
Most of Martinez’s cup-winning squad have left, as has chairman Dave Whelan, but his grandson Sharpe insists his move to axe Mackay and appoint Caldwell was one the Wigan owner approved of.
“I’ve known with my grandad, he’s got a reputation for making decisive decisions and I’ve learned from the best,” said Sharpe.
This is a long-term thing and we’re looking forward to the future with him that gets us back to our identity on and off the pitchLatics chairman David Sharpe
“It had to be done and I’m looking forward to the future.
“We speak a lot but he’s over in Barbados. He didn’t know what I was doing on Monday night. I spoke to him after and he’s 100 per cent behind me and Gary. He’s looking forward to us winning football games again.
“We’ve won two games here all season and it’s bang average for a club of our size.”
Both Sharpe and Caldwell himself played down the risky element attached to appointing somebody whose only managerial experience has come with Latics’ youth teams.
Former defender Caldwell is one of the few remaining squad members who played in the top flight at Wigan and he hopes his leadership qualities on the pitch will translate to the touchline.
“It’s a massive opportunity and people who saw me as a player will know I don’t really believe in risks,” he said.
“I played with desire and passion and that’s something that I want to bring to management. People will see it as a risk but I just see the opportunity and the chance to do something great for this club and take it back to where it should be.”