The 12th Man column: Takeover talk and John Sheridan's exit

Our 12th Man columnists have their say on the latest developments at Wigan Athletic...
Harry McHugh celebrates his goal in midweekHarry McHugh celebrates his goal in midweek
Harry McHugh celebrates his goal in midweek

Martin Tarbuck:

So farewell John Sheridan, your time with us was short and unmemorable. Let me try and play Devil’s advocate here as ever. He took the job when nobody decent would take it, he was a short term fix and he has helped Leam Richardson out, who was left climbing the walls when Cook departed.

He has been working with next to nothing, kids and misfits, with nothing on the table to improve a squad whose morale must be completely on the floor.

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Nevertheless, there will be no tears shed here or anywhere for that matter. I just find it difficult to direct anger or criticism towards him because he was always on a hiding to nothing.

I didn’t expect anything more given the situation we are in. I am completely numb to it, for as long as we remain in an ownerless limbo.

We cannot move forward until we have ownership, stewardship and accountability to someone, other than a bunch of insolvency practitioners.

I can’t see it being much easier for the next bloke. It seems Gary Caldwell is being touted. And predictability, we have fans on one side of the fence who would welcome it and others quite openly stating they would hate it. Makes you wonder why anyone would want to be our manager when they are faced with fans who openly oppose them from day one. As ever, I am indifferent for the time being. It means nothing until we get the ownership issue is resolved.

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Whichever manager comes in is going to have to deal with fans’ dissent, because as I frequently say, fans are never happy with us losing football games. Under any circumstances.

Indeed, in Caldwell’s previous spell as manager, many fans were barely happy when he was winning football games. He won a title for us but there was always this grudging lack of credit because he had a big budget. Personally when we’re winning, I’d rather enjoy myself rather than scrutinising wage to income ratios but that’s just me.

Of course, after we won the title and got promoted, the same fans were all over Caldwell after an abject start in the Championship and they and our then chairman got their wish, when GC was potted and we brought in Warren Joyce. Well, quite.

I personally think Caldwell might have become a better manager had he done the full season in the Championship, and let’s face it, he couldn’t have done much worse than his successor. Unfortunately, he is damaged goods now, which undoubtedly was his own fault, for moving to Chesterfield.

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I don’t think it would be any better if he came back to Wigan, because, yes, now it is us who are the basket case and we could even cease to exist in a few months unless the EFL pull their finger out.

All I can do is repeat what I have been frequently saying. We need to be patient, now more so than ever, whoever the next manager is and be cognisant of what they are working with. Let’s face it, it is barely 12 months since fans were screaming for Paul Cook’s head, which as usual, was a tad premature. This was a tremendous exercise in wasted effort now when we look back at it.

Ditto slagging off Martinez for “only” just avoiding relegation from the Premier League for several years. Ditto refusing to give Caldwell credit for winning the League One title because he had more money than everyone else.

Pretty sure the likes of Sunderland and Portsmouth have more money than most League One clubs, yet they are still there. It is almost as if there is more to it than how much you pay your players!

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It is crystal clear when you step out of the social media whirlwind what is reasonable and what is unreasonable for a club like Wigan Athletic. Martinez keeping us in the Premier League was a success. Cook keeping us in the Championship was a success and yes, Caldwell winning the League One title was a success.

Success this season will be defined by staying up but failure could be far worse than just going down.

The biggest single success right now will be to get the ownership issue resolved and if that can be done in a positive manner between now and Christmas, then for me, staying up would feel like a promotion, after all that we have been through this year. Maybe I’m just easily pleased though!

Sure we, as fans are suffering right now but there are plenty fans of other clubs who have suffered more, and had a lot less success over they years.

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We have a lot to be grateful for. We shouldn’t be casting envious eyes at Wrexham and their Hollywood stars and bemoaning the fact that they have sexy new owners, even if there is a very tenuous link.

Somebody will dispute this but historically Wrexham are every bit as big a club as ourselves and have had nigh on twenty years of financial trouble and being banished from the Football League. What we are going through will hopefully be a walk in the park in comparison, if we can somehow get the club out of administration by the end of the year.

Day by day, I understand that it is depressing and unsettling but there will be a positive outcome. Believe. That one word we should have copyrighted.

If, we are in League One come August 2021, with fans back in the ground then just imagine that positive vibe? It might be difficult to visualise in our current predicament but one day the wind will change and blow in our direction once more. And when it does, maybe the incessant moaning and criticism will fall silent, and as fans, we collectively unite and cherish every last second in quiet appreciation of what we have and nearly lost. For a week or two at least.


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I don’t drink very often so, when I do, it doesn’t take a lot to have me babbling like a toddler. One of the side effects, of course, is that I’m convinced that I know far more about every single subject on earth at the end of the night, than I knew at the beginning. The reality, of course, is the exact opposite.

So, with that in mind, I can only assume I’ve been a secret drinker since about July. I mean, I think I know what’s going on with the takeover when, actually, every statement that - eventually - gets released shows me I know nothing.

The ratification process is like herpes, in that I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of it. If you Google “Wigan Athletic takeover”, you just get loads of pictures of people scratching themselves like they’re shining a cricket ball. Begbies keep saying negotiations are continuing, the EFL say the same but with a much more dismissive tone, and that’s about it. Like any good STD, nobody seems to want to talk about the takeover in polite company.

I gave up being worried weeks ago. We’ll come out of this with a club, one way or another, we’ve always known that. It’s likely to be one in League 2, unless things start moving very quickly, but so be it. I’ve been there before, and it’s always been sort of expected amongst older fans that we might one day end up there again.

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I’d have preferred it to be under our own steam, than being down to the thinly disguised antics of a couple of Chinese gamblers, but such is football life. I do appreciate, though, that’s it’s a very difficult time for younger Latics fans. It’s 15 years since we made it to the promised land of the Premier League, and we had a few years of significant progress before that. It means anybody under the age of about 30 doesn’t really remember what it was like before then. I don’t criticise anyone for that, as we can all only judge something by our own experiences.

But, kids, this is what it’s actually like being a Latics fan. I genuinely can’t remember the last time we had the pleasure of mid-table mediocrity. We’ve been battling away at one end of any given league table for so long, that our normal is very different from that of most fans. I will keep the faith, as it’s difficult not to after 40-odd years of thick and thin watching Latics, but I don’t blame anyone for being discouraged at what’s currently going on.

All I will say is this, Wigan Athletic have always been a successful club, relative to our size. Whether it was in the Cheshire League, the NPL or in all 4 divisions of the football League and Premier League, we’ve always been a club who ruffled more feathers than anyone else. And so we will again. It won’t be this year, and probably not next, but we will return to our rightful place of somewhere near the top or bottom of our chosen division. But don’t quote me, because I really don’t know what’s going on.


Well Wednesday has given us another update by the administrator’s and the EFL which it would be easier to sort out the American presidential election.

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The EFL using the supporters club as an excuse is nothing more than dragging it out for what reason we don’t know why.

So John Sheridan looks to be on his way to Swindon (fingers crossed), in his post match interviews he says the players need to take responsibility.

To an extent he’s right but what about his responsibility, we don’t hear anything of that.

On to the disappointment of Chorley all looked well till the sending off, but once Chorley got one back you could see the fragile confidence we had.

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Now another criticism of Sheridan at the end of 90 minutes before extra time, the Chorley manager was into his team.

Not Sheridan – he just stood there, nothing whatsoever. Now the fact the AFC Wimbledon game is off could be a blessing in disguise time to get players back and rested and maybe a decision from the EFL (though I won’t hold my breath).

Stay Safe.

Caddy from the 5:

The sorry saga at Wigan Athletic shows no sign of ending i see ,Coronation Street didn’t drag the Pat Phelan storyline out as long as this debacle has taken.

As of writing we don’t know if John Sheridan has left officially although all the signs are he’ll be at Swindon sooner rather than later, will he be missed?

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Well not from me, I can give him credit for coming in and helping to try and steer a sinking ship but his management skills are poor for me.

Yes, I know he’s managing kids, strays and lads that don’t want to be here with one arm tied behind his back but the subs he’s made, the formations, the selections available to him etc have been baffling, so it’s with a not so heavy heart I’ll wish him well at Swindon,they’ll need it.

So who’s coming in then and taking on the biggest job in football?

Back to the takeover, The EFL have said they’re not ready to ratify the Spanish offer, they’ve over SIX WEEKS to do this, I’m all for going through it with a fine tooth comb but come on, surely either put up or shut up and let someone else have a go if you’re not happy with what you’re seeing on either side. There’s the small matter of a club on its knees dying in front of you in case you’d forgot.

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I;ve absolutely no idea what the hold up is. Do you know why? Because no one tells us nothing. ‘We can’t say anything, we’ve signed an NDA’ is wearing very thin.

I’ve said this on Twitter, the Supperters Club are custodians of the fans’ £800k, they say they can’t move forward with what the Spaniards are offering,WELL WHY CAN’T THEY TELL US?

They (the Supporters Club) aren’t the bad guys in this but we need updates from them, they’re on the inside, we don’t need to know every detail but a dialogue to the fans is surely paramount, it’s our money!!

This whole thing needs some kind of resolution, we cannot keep simple drifting into oblivion, because that’s where we are going.

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Our club needs an owner, a leader, a manager, players who’ll come in and tell us their ambitions, their targets, their way of doing things.

Right I’m off scouting who’s available for pennies, I’ll start with Warren Joyce... ONLY KIDDING!! And before i go sinking a few gallon of bow, I wish Phelan had got a grip of that Simon off Corrie,now he does wind me up...

Anyway, UP THE TICS!!!

Sean Livesey:

It’s often said that Wigan Athletic achieved more in 25 years than most clubs did in a 125 years.

Although it mostly went Pete Tong after relegation from the Premier League Latics under Dave Whelan and then David Sharpe continued to punch above our weight.

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I think that’s what makes the last few months even more painful, it’s been a long time since Latics struggled on the pitch as much as we are now, and it’s a whole generation since we struggled off the pitch like we are now.

Indeed speak to many of those that were around in the late 80s and early 90s and even this is worse than those dark days.

In normal years an FA Cup draw of Wigan Athletic v Chorley live on the BBC would have been a cause for celebration, instead in this painful year of years it was just another reminder of what we’ve missed and continue to miss out on.

If any club was due to suffer an upset in the Cup this season it would be Wigan Athletic – a club completely unrecognisable from the one that so nearly upset the odds to remain in the Championship last season.

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Latics had failed to win in the previous eight matches before Sunday’s FA Cup game so surely they could stop the rot against the side bottom of the Conference North?

Of course not – this is Wigan Athletic we’re talking about here.

Despite an impressive start to the game and a two goal lead the sending off of young Adam Long turned the game around and allowed Chorley to get back on to level terms. Even then Latics should have finished the game off, the fact we didn’t and Chorley managed to get ahead in Extra-time was no surprise.

You could feel it coming as soon as Chorley equalised.

John Sheridan has been on the end of a lot of criticism in the last few weeks, a lot I thought unfairly.

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He came in to an impossible job and without any sort of pre-season with his players seemed to cajole them in to some decent performances and at the back end of September had even managed to turn results around.

Since the start of October we’ve had an horrific injury list and without any senior professionals the young lads have been forced to carry the side on their shoulders. Without the ability to sign anyone thanks to a hugely unfair squad limit placed on us by the EFL both John Sheridan and Leam Richardson have been working with their hands tied behind their backs.

But all that being said I won’t be shedding any tears over Sheridan’s reported departure to Swindon, despite the strong performances of the young side he seems unable to exude any sort of enthusiasm. He has a habit of hauling young lads across the coals such as with Adam Long on Sunday afternoon. He reminds me of the very worst days of Warren Joyce and frankly in our position we aren’t asking for the world at the moment.

Just some positivity that may transmit to these young lads on the pitch. The season isn’t over yet and there’s a lot of football to be played, survival in League One will be a fantastic achievement and these young lads are capable of that but they need someone to guide them, looking in from afar John Sheridan is not the man to do that.

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Speaking of survival we are now 44 days on since the administrators announced that they had reached agreement with a Spanish-based consortium to purchase Wigan Athletic. Now, 44 days later and not much has changed.

Despite continued dialogue between the EFL and the prospective new owners, the EFL feel unable to yet sign off the takeover, whilst the administrators have extended the exclusivity period (reportedly for a further week).

Forgive me for my scepticism but if the prospective owners have been unable to provide the EFL with what is required in over six weeks, I fail to see what difference an extra week would make.

Everything Jose Miguel Garrido Cristo spoke about in his series of interviews with Wigan Today last week made sense and I think most Latics fans would love to see that type of model being put in place for us.

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But as we discovered with IEC and Au Yeung – talk is cheap. If the Spanish can’t prove what is required by the EFL then it’s time for the administrators to move on.

Those close to the process tell us that there are many other bids, arguably better than this we’ve seen ready and waiting to step in.

Well in that case the administrators should move forward with these other bids as every day that passes just damages Wigan Athletic further and if we’re not careful before long there’ll be nothing left to save.

The criticism of Begbies Traynor has seemingly been quelled in recent weeks but let’s not forget some of the miss-steps and approach from the administrators that has now left us in the position we are in.

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As I said last week we’re in a battle for our survival, on and off the pitch.

At least we have two weeks away from matches now to regroup and hopefully tackle the winter in a stronger manner than we have the Autumn.

Who knows who’ll be in the dugout but these young lads have shown they can play, the big issue is that we’re asking a whole squad to step up where usually you may blood two or three players maximum in one season.

Although the defeats are hard to take the youngsters are giving their all and that’s all we can ask.

Matthew Auffrey:

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If the dark side of administration reared its ugly head during the first two months of the season, we just received the full body portrait over this past week.

We’ve bowed out of two separate cup competitions, lost our manager to a league rival, and received concerning news about the status of our takeover that couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time.

In the middle of those disheartening events, we also learned that the ever-so-popular Gary Roberts would not be returning to Latics, despite a multitude of fan requests to retain him in a playing or coaching capacity.

I processed the loss to Chorley differently than most since I don’t have any connection to Greater Manchester or Lancashire outside of football fandom.

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Prior to Saturday’s first round FA Cup match, the only time I had ever heard of Chorley was from our infamous high-scoring preseason friendly several years prior. I was not surprised to watch us go into halftime with a comfortable 2-0 lead, and was equally not surprised to see us go down 3-2 just over an hour later and ultimately lose in extra time. I was disappointed with the final outcome but not enraged. My expectations for team performance are hovering just above absolute zero at the moment.

If we go down to 10 men, under any circumstances, I would not expect us to produce a result against a baseball team.

Our third and final Papa John’s Trophy group match provided a healthy dose of midweek entertainment. Many young players received another 90-minute run of first team football and 18-year-old Harry McHugh took full advantage by scoring a world class goal from outside of the penalty box. The players were “rewarded” for a competitive outing with a complementary penalty shootout.

I’ve found that it’s better to lose those in November than in May.

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If any player personnel takeaway came from our past two matches, it was that our academy players will continue to be most competitive against academy competition.

We may be able to plug in one or two of these players into the first team regularly going forward and expect to stay up in League One, but otherwise, we need as many senior players as possible to stay healthy and build form together.

The postponement of this weekend’s fixture against Wimbledon may have been the best thing to happen to Latics in some time. The extended break should allow everyone involved with Wigan Athletic some much needed time to recharge and regroup after a very challenging stretch.

We will continue to proceed without owners, without a manager, and without any certainty that our club will continue to exist beyond this calendar year. In the meantime, all we can do is wait – as we have been doing for days, and weeks, and months.

Want to have your say? Email [email protected]