Any newly promoted club would tell you that avoiding relegation (particularly in the Premier League) is the primary aim for the first season, and that was no different for my Wigan side. We’ve surpassed expectation however and managed a very comfortable mid table position of 10th with 11 wins,16 draws, and 11 defeats. But how?
My focus this season has not actually been on winning games, but avoiding defeats. Pre season I spoke about changing our tactical approach because I didn’t feel that our possession based game would be effective against Premier League opposition. I put together a tactic for taking on the Premier League as underdogs, which we’ve relied on heavily this season. I’m convinced that this tactic has converted numerous defeats in to draws and has helped us nick a few low-score wins. This all ties in with our goal statistics – only bottom of the league Sunderland scored fewer, but only Liverpool and title winners Man City conceded fewer. In the end we’ve finished 16 points clear of relegation and can boast the third best defence in the league.
Until we can attract the top drawer players we’ll be continuing this style of play, building on it with tweaks and improvements. We’re still struggling to attract the big names, Wigan doesn’t quite have the romance of a Barcelona or Real Madrid, but I’m working on it. I’ll be trying to add that bit of quality to the squad where possible, and bring in high potential where it’s not. If I can introduce some creativity and flair I will do but not to the detriment of us being hard to beat. Any new signings will need to fit the system and squad personality.
I won’t bore you with a complete listing of the ins and outs but these are some of our key signings:
Robbie Brady was player of the season for a second year running and remains the first name on the team sheet. Young player of the year goes to playmaker Emyr Huws who’s developing really well now and getting plenty of first time game time.
You’ve got to strive to improve each and every season and the coming season’s no different. I’ll be looking for us to develop some of our younger first team players, finish above 10th in the league and have a good run in the FA Cup. Lifting the FA Cup is the last remaining target I set myself from when I first took the Wigan mantle, re-lifting the cup at Wembley feels like the most nostalgic way to end the series.