Former Latics defender Steven Caldwell says Owen Coyle is the ‘perfect choice’ for the club, and the man to get Wigan Athletic back to the Premier League.
Caldwell was Coyle’s captain at Burnley when the Clarets won promotion to the top flight back in 2009, and drawing on the experiences of that period in his career, is firm in the belief that the Gaffer can repeat the achievement at the DW Stadium, saying:
“I was delighted for Wigan Athletic when I heard the news. It’s a club that is very special to me, because of the memories I have from my time there and because it’s where my brother plays his football.
“So when the news came through I was made up because I know what type of guy the club is getting, and I think it’ll be a really good partnership.
“Owen is very passionate about the game and about his club, and I have to say that’s he’s one of the most enjoyable managers I’ve ever worked with because of his enthusiasm and commitment to his players.
“There’ll be changes at the club following the drop to the Championship, but he has the pedigree to succeed in that division, and has proven himself in the top flight as well, so to me it seems like the perfect choice.”
Looking at Coyle’s specific qualities, Caldwell pointed to the Gaffer’s man-management, and his ability to get the very best out of his players during the good and bad times:
“He’s a motivator, said the Scotland international, “someone who’ll get the players playing with a smile and bring out the best in people.
“He proved his credentials at Burnley. We were a team no-one ever fancied to go to the Premier League, but he built a squad and gave it so much spirit that got us there. Whoever we played we thought we could beat, and we did. Our home record was fantastic going from the Championship into the Premier League, beating the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton.
“When things aren’t going so well he keeps people motivated, picks them up and never lets the pressure of the situation affect the squad in a negative way. At Championship-level that is crucial, because it’s relentless, brutal and you need someone who can get you through the bad spells.”
Burnley were the second-highest goalscorers in the Championship during their promotion-winning season with 72 goals, a fact not surprising to Caldwell who explained the team’s confident and attractive style of play that year:
“We were always an attacking team, especially at home and we had some memorable performances as a result.
“Even in the playoffs we were a positive team, despite what we were playing for. We attacked teams, took the game to them and felt as though if we played to our full potential then we would beat them, and more often than not we did.
“He’ll put that belief in the players, and continue to build on what Roberto has left at the club in terms of the way in which the team plays, because he likes his teams to get the ball on the ground and play with style.
“I always find it hard to distinguish between the different achievements I’ve had throughout my career because they’re all so special in their own way.
“But the 2008/09 season was probably the most enjoyable of my career, and a large part of that was Owen and his staff. I think a lot of the lads we had in the team then would say the same, the likes of Wade Elliott, Graham Alexander, Clarke Carlisle and Brian Jensen who, together with myself, were probably at the peak of our career.
“We played 61 games with about 18 players, and about ten of those players must have played about 55/56 times, so that gives you an idea of how demanding the league can be.
“But we had such a togetherness as a club, that it meant we could get through those periods and really brave what was thrown at us in terms of fixture schedules, and that’s a big thing he’ll bring to Wigan Athletic.”