Callum McManaman 'would have turned down new Wigan Athletic deal'
Callum McManaman has lifted the lid on his departure from Wigan Athletic, and admits he wouldn't have stayed on even if he had been offered a new contract.
The 28-year-old endured a frustrating campaign with Latics, having rejoined in a blaze of publicity and expectation last summer.
Only one of his 22 league appearances was from the start – at Aston Villa last August – with many coming as cameos in the last 10 minutes.
After being released last month, McManaman snapped up by Luton Town, whose new manager Graeme Jones knows all about the forward from his first spell at the DW.
And the man of the match from the FA Cup final in 2013 admits returning 'home' to Wigan was a dream that quickly turned sour.
“I went there thinking I was going to play every game and kick on as I’d done well there before," said McManaman.
"But I knew from quite early on that I wasn’t going to get the chances I deserved.
“I actually did well off the bench, and I merited a start on a lot of occasions - and didn’t get it.
“To be honest, even if I got offered a new contract at Wigan I wouldn’t have stayed.
“I don’t think I would have played under that manager, so I was going to go anyway.
"That’s football, there’s no hard feelings.
“But I want to play every game, I think the gaffer now is definitely the man for that."
McManaman wasted little time in getting fixed up with the Championship new-boys.
And he says the opportunity to team up with Jones - Latics assistant manager under Roberto Martinez between 2009-13 - was an absolute no-brainer.
“There was a little bit of interest (from elsewhere), nothing concrete, but as soon as I met the gaffer, I made my mind up," he told Dunstable Today, sister paper of the Wigan Post.
“It wasn’t about anything to do with money, I just wanted to play as he just knows me, he knows exactly how to get the best out of me.
“I was delighted to get it done so early to be honest, as I’ve never been out of contract, so I was a little bit worried.
“But I’d only been released a few days and the gaffer had rung me and spoken to me.
"Then I met up with him and as soon as I spoke to him that was it, I was desperate to join."
Jones and Martinez are the only management team who've come close to realising McManaman's undoubted potential.
And the player can't wait to make up for lost time.
“As soon as I spoke to the gaffer, he knows me inside out, he was like, ‘this is how I want to play,’ and it excited me straight away," he added.
"At Wigan, Roberto as a manager, Graeme was the assistant, but both of them realised what type of player I am.
“For most of my career, I’ve been maybe tracking back too far and wasting all my energy in the defensive half.
"Obviously you’ve got to work hard for the team, but they found a way somehow to fit me into the team and get my best work at the top end of the pitch and not defending.
“That’s what he said when he was talking to me as well.
“He said ‘I’ve watched you the last few years and you’ve kind of gone backwards from when they had me.’
“He was basically saying, this is why he thinks it was, he said he watched me in this game for this team and knew everything about me.
“So that was basically what sold it for me as well as he realised this is why I’ve not done too well the last few years.
“I wouldn’t say it surprised me, but it took me back, because he was naming games from other clubs that he’d watched and said, ‘in this game, three or four years ago, you should have been doing this.’
“He must have named four or five games, and I was like ‘wow, he’s so far ahead, so switched on.’"