It has not been a smooth transition for Wigan Athletic since Roberto Martinez, his coaching staff and swathes of players left over the summer.
But supporters are at least more optimistic about the future, given the arrival of Uwe Rösler and other appointments that might well prove key to the club’s continued development.
Only a few weeks ago the club seemed to be taking one step forward and two steps back. Losing to Brighton, Zulte Waregem and Derby in the space of eight days was hard to swallow. The team just was not going anywhere. The lack of ambition in their play was a sad sight, let alone the long ball tactics that were reminiscent of Bolton under Allardyce and Megson. Surely that was not the real Wigan Athletic?
Supporters know the club is going through another transition, but there is a lot more optimism now. Like Martinez – but unlike Coyle – Rösler has come in with a clear game plan, even if it could take time for the players to consistently put it into effect.
A lot has been happening this week. Brentford have announced the departure of assistant manager Alan Kernaghan and first team coach Peter Farrell. Nothing yet from Wigan side, but their arrival must be imminent.
One wonders what will happen with current first team coach Graham Barrow, who has a terrific record of service at the club. Barrow’s son James was brought in by Coyle as conditioning coach and he is taking a lot of flak from supporters about the lack of physical fitness of the squad, although to be fair he might have been overruled by Coyle.
Gregor Rioch’s arrival coincided with that of Rösler, so he did not come in as heralded as he might have been otherwise. Rioch has been appointed to run the Latics Academy, following an outstanding record in developing young players at Coventry City. His father Bruce was manager of Latics for a brief spell in the 2000-2001 season.
The simultaneous arrival of both Rösler and Rioch might well prove a landmark in the history of Wigan Athletic. Supporters can already see that long-term vision back at the club that was obscured by the mistake of hiring Coyle on a one year contract.
Latics even signed a player this week.
Patrick Antelmi was a teenage prodigy in Australia, well documented on YouTube. He has been playing for Latics’ development squad this season after spells at several English clubs over the past five years, the main ones being Portsmouth and Leeds. He is still only 19 and given the difficulty of finding quality strikers he appears to be well worth giving a chance.
Click here to see a YouTube video interview through ‘Aussies Abroad’ during his time at Leeds last year. So often kids can look outstanding in their early teens but don’t make it. However, Antelmi clearly has a wonderful technique, a great left foot and has already scored goals for the development squad.
The outcome of tomorrow’s match at Hillsborough is difficult to predict. Sheffield Wednesday are in the bottom three and Latics have won away games against the teams below them, Barnsley and Yeovil.
However, not only will it be Latics’ third match in a week, but they are also adjusting to a new style of play. The high pressing that Rösler expects is physically demanding for players who have not managed to keep up such a pace up till now. The question is whether the lineup Rosler puts out will be able to do what he wants most of the time.
Jordi Gomez, excellent in the Maribor game, is due for a recall. So too is Roger Espinoza, whose style appears right for the football Rösler is looking for. Other than that it is hard to predict the lineup the German will put out.
Rösler will hope to come out with a good result tomorrow, given a difficult trip to Reading at the weekend.
However, were the good result not to materialize the fans would not be overly upset.
There is now optimism for the future that had severely dissipated under the Coyle regime.