After meeting former Latics boss Paul Jewell, I asked myself the question: “who has been the best Wigan Athletic manager since our promotion to the Premier League”.
With only four contenders for this illustrious title you would think that it would be an easy decision, but after considering their positives, faults, successes and failures, here are my conclusions.
I have ranked the four Premier League Managers from fourth through to one and given my reasons behind the choice.
4th Chris Hutchings (P:13 W:2 L:9 D:2 – win average 15%, points average 0.46)
It was always going to be a tall order for Hutchings after a dramatic win on the last day of the season saw Latics survive by the skin of their teeth and with it said farewell to manager Paul Jewell.
Jewell’s right hand man had been Chris Hutchings who quite gladly stepped forward to over the reins at Latics. From the onset though he showed that the step up was far too much too early and Wigan were in the relegation mire.
A home defeat at the hands of Chelsea was the final straw for Mr Whelan and another manager had to found and quick. He was a great assistant for Paul Jewell and Wigan Athletic, but not good enough to take the step up to manage in the top flight.
3rd Roberto Martinez (P:50 W:13 L: 25 D:12 win average 26%, points average 1.02)
Roberto Martinez was a former playing hero returning to the DW after a successful start to his management career with Swansea. Martinez’s attacking and eye catching football has revolutionised the way in which Wigan play, but as yet hasn’t won over all the new fans we have gained since promotion and has even got some of the long standing ones criticising what they see as negative play.
Maybe in the long term Bobby’s style of play will pay off as we have seen with the likes of Arsenal, Barcelona and some of the top teams in Europe, but we have to go on results and the team at present for this exercise.
There have been great wins against Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal but then there have been embarrassing defeats against Chelsea, Spurs and of course Blackpool. There is no doubting that Martinez is a great manager but the way in which Wigan perform under him is sometimes called in to question. I’m sure in time Martinez will be in the running for the top spot.
2nd Steve Bruce (P:68 W:23 L:28 D:17 – win average 34%, points average 1.26)
Bruce was brought in with one remit and that was to stop the rot and get Latics to survive in the Premier League that season.
It was his second spell in charge at Wigan; the first was a very brief affair. We saw Bruce save Wigan from relegation in his first season and we were also very privileged to see some excellent talent brought in by the former Manchester United player.
The likes of Wilson Palacios and Charles N’Zogbia joined Wigan under Bruce and turned Wigan into a team able to compete alongside all in the Premier League. Bruce left Wigan to join a bigger club with more ambition (Sunderland?) and compared transfer funds to that of being able to shop at Harrods rather than Tesco. It wasn’t his best moment or decision to be honest.
All I can say to this is why come to Wigan for players Mr Bruce….but alas thanks.
1st Paul Jewell (P:76 W:25 L:37 D:14 – win average 33%, points average 1.17)
This man needs no introduction and is fully justified in my eyes as Wigan’s greatest Premier League manager.
There are plenty of reasons why Paul Jewell makes it to my top spot, he masterminded Wigan’s rise through the Footballing echelons. In six years he took a team from the relegation zone in Division 2 to three promotions, a Carling Cup final and to the Promised Land, the Premier League.
Paul Jewell’s teams were the foundation for Wigan’s Premier League stay and Jewell showed he had fight and grit within his playing staff, so much so that few changes needed to be made to get Wigan staying in the league.
It was unfortunate that Jewell left after keeping Wigan in the league at Sheffield United but Jewell is the man who started the dream. He was man enough to admit that he couldn’t take the team any further, but did admit that if Latics had got relegated he would have stayed on.
Although money was spent, there a few teams in the World that can boast Latics record since 1978. An unfashionable team that has against all the odds has shown that new football clubs can make it good.
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