Depression reigns at Wigan. Dreams of getting back into the top flight are now a thing of the past. The harsh reality is that League 1 is getting scaringly close, following a woeful 1-0 home loss to Huddersfield Town.
Is Malky Mackay the right man to get Latics out of the relegation mire?
Mackay’s appointment caused more damage to Wigan Athletic’s reputation than anything else in their 83 year history. Moreover his record as a manager at Wigan, up to this point, beggars belief. Although it is still early days in Mackay’s tenure his win record up to this point is the worst of any Latics manager since they joined the Football League. At 10% his record falls below even such as Chris Hutchings,15%, and Kenny Swain, 24%. Thanks to Whittleblue for the win ratio stats he posted on the Vital Wigan Forum.
Mackay’s record before he arrived at Wigan led us to believe that he could turn the team around. Dave Whelan thought he was the man to lead Latics back to the Premier League. So what has gone wrong?
There are two diametrically opposed views that try to rationalise Wigan Athletic’s current predicament and put it into perspective. You could label them “Pro-Malky” and “Get Him Out”.
The “Pro-Malky” camp will say that Mackay has been lumbered with dead wood from the Rosler era. The bottom line of the argument is that the players just are not good enough and that is why Latics are in 23rd place in the Championship. The best thing that can happen is a total clear out, not just of players, but also of coaching staff. Malky can only succeed once he gets rid of the dead wood and brings in his own men.
The “Get Him Out” camp will say that he should never have been appointed, given the baggage he brought with him. How can a man who has been tarred (fairly or unfairly so) as a racist gain the respect of a multicultural dressing room? Given the prospect of an FA suspension hovering above him, do players see him as a temporary manager? But the camp’s strongest argument is a record of W1 D2 L7 since he arrived. What happened to the uplifting effect on results of a new manager?
The reality is that Latics are fast-tracking towards League 1. The pattern of negative displays and results has become ingrained. The players seem to have forgotten how to win. Mackay clearly sees an influx of new personnel as a means of changing the mentality in the squad.
In the meantime the fire sale continues. Having already lost Roger Espinoza, Shaun Maloney and Ben Watson, it seems only a matter of time until Callum McManaman leaves. Ivan Ramis would probably have been gone too if it were not for an ankle injury. Both Fraser Fyvie and Thomas Rogne seem to have disappeared off the radar.
Although most fans would acknowledge the need for freshening up the squad, there remains an underlying suspicion that Latics have already accepted relegation as a probability and are selling off their higher wage earners to prepare for League 1.
Sadly the club does not remain as attractive to prospective new players as it did a year ago, when the mood was buoyant and the FA Cup victory still resonating in people’s minds. What kind of player would want to go to a club lying second from bottom of the Championship and selling off its family silver?
Mackay clearly sees the centre of defence as an area of weakness. He has already brought in the combative Liam Ridgewell on a six week loan and rumours are that he is going to tie up a move for the “tough tackling” Jason Pearce from Leeds United.
In the meantime there is a strong lobby among fans for Mackay to be dismissed, while there is still time for another manager to come in and turn things round. However, in dismissing Mackay, Dave Whelan would lose even more face on top of that he has already lost. Moreover Whelan is serving the six week ban imposed on him by the FA.
Time is marching on and a bad situation among the playing staff has gone from bad to worse since the Scot’s arrival. The pro-Mackay followers will say that he needs more time, as he brings in new players to catalyse a new dynamic. His detractors are getting increasingly frustrated and some are hoping that FA action against the manager will come in strong and sooner rather than later.
Freshening up seems a necessity.
The question is whether it is just the playing squad or it is the manager and the coaching staff too that needs it.
These players are better than 23rd in the Championship, which means the problem is they’re not interested or they have no respect for the manager, or both. If I was manager, I would ask Whelan to tell the players if Wigan go down you will all be held to your contracts. I can’t imagine many have relegation clauses from the Championship. They all know that if Wigan go down they’ll go elsewhere, so threaten them. They’re far too protected and it’s about time they realised the gravity of the situation. Not many premier league clubs will be looking at McManaman after 2 seasons in league 1.