Shaun Maloney responds to Gary Caldwell comments ahead of Wigan Athletic's return trip to Exeter

Shaun Maloney admits Gary Caldwell's comments following Wigan Athletic's win at Exeter last month have been 'very difficult' to process ahead of this weekend's FA Cup return.
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Latics will make their second trip to Devon in the space of a fortnight, hoping to repeat their excellent 2-0 victory at St James' Park on October 21.

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Gary Caldwell muses Wigan Athletic old boy was 'too honest' as Exeter City pay t...

Despite having less than 30 per cent of the ball, Latics dug deep to soak up everything the home side had to offer, before Jordan Jones' stoppage-time clincher.

Gary Caldwell and Shaun Maloney share the technical area during Latics' 2-0 victory at Exeter last monthGary Caldwell and Shaun Maloney share the technical area during Latics' 2-0 victory at Exeter last month
Gary Caldwell and Shaun Maloney share the technical area during Latics' 2-0 victory at Exeter last month
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After the game, Caldwell - a long-time colleague of Maloney with Celtic, Scotland and Wigan, as well as briefly in management at Hibernian - surprised many with the depth of his post-match thoughts.

Accusing Latics of playing 'playing very negative football'...which was 'really frustrating and really disappointing', Caldwell also claimed it 'became a little bit embarrassing, if I'm honest'.

He added: "It's not the club that I knew, it's not the way I knew that club plays.

"They were very slow, every single player went down at least once, and they were very clever in their approach.

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"All credit to them, it's not the way I'd want to win a game, doing that so early, so clearly and so blatantly."

Maloney says he was only made aware of the comments on the team coach on the way home, and has not spoken to his countryman since.

"I only saw that night, when I got sent his post-match video, what was said," Maloney revealed.

"I spoke to Gary after the game, and he didn't mention any of that really.

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"Yeah, he said a lot in there...but in terms of his club - and others we've faced this season - I fully respect every matter how they try to play, whether it's 70 per cent possession or the opposite.

"I think what I've loved about our performances is we've shown we can do a bit of both.

"In the second half against Charlton, we dominated the game, we played very, very well.

"In the Exeter game, we had to defend for long periods of time without the ball.

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"Honestly, I don't judge any team for any style of play...I fully respect every single team.”

When asked whether he was surprised to hear the comments, he continued: "I think when you mention - or you don't speak overly positively about - a club, it becomes very difficult.

"Because a club's made up of the fans...the people who pay to come and watch us...and the staff...and I know what many of this staff have been through...and the players, and obviously the coaching staff.

"Yeah, it's hard...maybe I do have some feelings on it...but also it's pretty irrelevant really.

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"He has his opinions...and my opinion about his club is very different...I don't have one negative thing to say about them.

"I really respect Exeter as a football club.

"They're fan owned, they've got an amazing Academy which has produced so many players for them.

"If he has something to say about my club, well that's his choice."

On whether this weekend's game will be much different, Maloney added: "We'll see.

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"But I actually liked what we did at Exeter with the performance.

"The way they play, they have a lot of rotation in terms of wing-backs and No.10s, and the midfielders dropping into the last line.

"So they can build up with a lot of players, and sometimes that leaves us with a choice - do we press as hard as we can, with five or six players, and leave a backline or three or four players?

"But I actually liked what I saw.

"I'd like to have more of the ball if we can, but the biggest thing from that game was every time we won it, our front three were a massive threat.

"At times they left us three against three, and that definitely means we can be an attacking threat."

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