Wigan, a small town in the North of England known for its rugby – not football, were promoted to the Premier League in 2005 and since then have survived in the division season after season.
I, and I’m sure many others agree, question whether they will be able to pull off such an achievment for much longer. Surely, with the economical state the beautiful game is in and other significant factors, the Latics can’t survive for much longer. Are they running out of steam?
Wigan has always been a football club with a good reputation. Proud to boast hard working, honest individuals – words that reflect the club’s owner David Whelan. With the town mostly associated with rugby, the side has one of the lowest support rates in the Premier League. However, this doesn’t stop them from consistently avoiding relegation from the division they have been in for nearly seven years.
What’s the special ingrediant then? Why is this club, low on support and money, continuing to shock the Premier League world season after season and avoid the drop? It’s a truly remarkable story.
But, I do feel sooner or later Wigan will crumble. And, ultimately, be lowered down to the Championship where for me, they would look less out of place.
Since securing their best ever finish in the Premier League in 2006, they have progressed.
Last season, the Latics stayed up on the very last day of the campaign, beating Stoke at their place 1-0 courtsey of a Hugo Rodellaga bullet header. After being at the bottom for much of the term, they scraped survival yet again.
This season, the side have been very inconsistent. They have drew to Chelsea and Liverpool at home, and recently earned three vital points at Anfield against Liverpool, yet operate 19th spot in the league table, sitting one point off safety.
Many journalists have been quick to point at Wigan and assume they will go down this season. Yet, despite their current league position, it wouldn’t surprise me if they beat the drop once more and stretched their stay in the league to over seven years.
But much of this success must go down to manager Roberto Martinez and chairman David Whelan – who have both formed a strong, powerful relationship since the Spaniard took over at the DW Stadium in 2009. Back in the summer, Martinez had the choice to leave the North for the Midlands as Aston Villa were sniffing. But the former Swansea boss stayed put, again showing his complete belief in the club and respect for Whelan.
Martinez has made a real influence on the Latics’ style of play. Brought up watching Spanish football, Martinez prides himself on quick passing and possession of the ball. The great thing is, he’s managed to get his players doing this with short funds and lots of pressure.
They stay up by playing good football. Something Martinez needs to be thanked hugely for. I thought he had made the wrong decision in selling Charles N’Zogbia to Villa in the summer, yet it’s turned out that young Victor Moses has stepped in and done really well. His decision making seems to be one of his strongest points as a coach and the Latics are fortunate to have him, a man with such loyalty and faith.
I feel the side’s time may have come, though. One would say, with the way the Premier League is at the moment, that they won’t be able to dictate the lower places for much longer. They have eight games left.
Wigan Athletic Football Club – running out of steam?