Warren the top Joyce for Latics
So the worst-kept secret in football is finally out, and Warren Joyce is the new manager of Wigan Athletic.
The last few days have felt like months for some fans, who wanted the new man in almost as soon as Gary Caldwell had departed stage left.But these things clearly take time – and Latics were happy to wait for their No.1 choice.
I was on annual leave last week, on a day-trip to the coast at Southport, when news filtered through of Caldwell’s exit.
To be fair, I was very surprised, because I thought I’d seen enough in the performances this term to suggest Latics weren’t that far from a positive run of results.
That said, I could have made an equally solid case for the prosecution – two wins from 15 games doesn’t make for great reading.
One thing that was apparent was that Caldwell hadn’t ‘lost the dressing’ room, as is often stated about departed managers.
The number of players that took to social media to tweet their support and thanks spoke volumes, and I think even chairman David Sharpe would have been upset to part company with the man – ‘his man’ – he took a chance on 18 months ago.
Since then of course, it’s been a real roller-coaster of emotions for us all, with the awful low of relegation quickly being replaced by the massive high of last season – and a nine-month adventure in League One.
The scenes following the Blackpool and Barnsley games will live long in the memory, and for that we can only thank Caldwell for delivering on his promise of promotion.
The last few months have, of course, been considerably less fun, but it was always going to be a transition from being big fish in a small pond to a goldfish in the Pacific Ocean.
The fine margins were evident in recent weeks, when Latics played far better only to lose to Brighton in Caldwell’s last match in charge, than they did in winning at Cardiff in their first outing without him.
It’s all ifs and buts now, of course, and what everyone connected with Wigan Athletic – players, staff and supporters – have to now is draw a line in the sand and embrace the new era.
Some will say Joyce – Manchester United’s Under-21 boss for the last six years – is very much a gamble, in terms of his relatively little managerial experience at first-team level.
But his reputation within the game speaks for itself, and the outpouring of disappointment from United fans who follow the fortunes below first-team level spoke absolute volumes.
He’ll take time to get to grips with life as a No.1, but the squad possesses far more quality and is playing better football than the league position suggests.
After this weekend’s visit of Reading, Joyce will have the luxury of a fortnight with the players during the international break to get some ideas across.
In reality, there’s not too much ‘wrong’ that needs putting ‘right’. And if Joyce can settle in quickly, this season doesn’t necessarily have to be a campaign with a target of merely staying out of the bottom three.