What a frustrating time it is for Wigan Athletic and their supporters – stuck in limbo.
Roberto Martinez has not gone yet, but it looks like he is going whether it be to Everton or somewhere else. But until he does go his replacement cannot be named and the process of rebuilding cannot commence.
Whoever the new manager is he is going to have a busy summer.
According to transfermarkt Latics have 10 players leaving at the end of their contracts . They are – in order of deemed “market value” – Maynor Figueroa (£4 million), Antolin Alcaraz (£2.2 m), Ronnie Stam (£1.8), Joel Robles (£1.8 m, on loan from Atletico Madrid), Paul Scharner (£1.3 m, on loan from Hamburg), David Jones (£1.3 m), Albert Crusat (£1.3m), Emmerson Boyce (£875,000), Adrian Lopez (£475,000), Mike Pollitt (£200,000). They do not include Ryo Miyaichi who has been on loan from Arsenal.
One continues to hope that Dave Whelan will avoid a fire sale of star players remaining under contract. However, the sale of James McCarthy seems inevitable and Arouna Kone’s name is already being linked to various clubs.
When Martinez left Swansea he brought with him assistant manager Graeme Jones , chief scout Kevin Reeves, coach Dennis Lawrence, and goalkeeping coach Inaki Bergara. It would be no surprise if they followed him to his next move too.
Given the situation Dave Whelan will be hoping for a resolution of Martinez’s future as soon as possible. In the meantime he tells us that over fifty people have expressed interest in the position, including “some very high profile names”. Included in those will be ex-England manager, Steve McClaren, who is a front runner together with Rene Meulensteen. There have even been rumours of an ex- Manchester United tandem of Meulensteen and Mike Phelan taking over.
Every time I look at the Oddschecker site I find the odds for Latics’ new manager have changed. The latest up and coming name is that of Karl Robinson. The 32 year old MK Dons manager played non-league football for teams that would be familiar to the more senior of Latics fans, including Oswestry, Rhyl and Prescot Cables. He was a bustling centre forward. However, at the age of 29 he was the youngest ever to get the UEFA Pro coaching licence. His Dons teams are known for their good football.
In the past Dave Whelan has made inspired recruitments in managers who have taken Latics so far. Paul Jewell did an amazing job in getting them in to the Premier League and the League Cup final, Steve Bruce saved a sinking situation and kept them afloat, Roberto Martinez did a great job against the odds.
The short-lived appointment of the unfortunate Chris Hutchings, assistant to Paul Jewell, might well have put Whelan off promoting from within. Graeme Jones certainly deserves due consideration and one hopes that previous history will not count against him.
There are experienced managers up for the job – Steve McClaren and Owen Coyle topping the list. But then again Whelan took a gamble with the young Roberto Martinez and it significantly extended the club’s time in the Premier League and won them the FA Cup.
Tony Pulis is also a candidate according to the bookmakers. There are Darksiders among the Wigan Athletic faithful who would not be averse to his appointment. However, the majority of Wigan fans are unlikely to want to see his kind of football at the DW. Wigan have built up a reputation for good football and it is something that people would want to continue.
The next manager will have a hard act to follow. Let’s see if Whelan will play the wild card again and appoint somebody like Meulensteen or Robinson. However, it is still early days and the likes of Roberto Di Matteo and Gus Poyet still remain possibilities.
One thing for sure is that Wigan Athletic have never before had such a strong field of managerial candidates. We might all have our preferences, but Dave Whelan will make the final decision. Let’s hope he can keep us his record of good appointments and put in someone who can lead the club to even greater glories.