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  • Writer's picturecrowdplod

Wigan Relegated - Season Summary and What's Next?

In what was the most gut-wrenching and unfortunate conclusion to their Championship campaign, Wigan Athletic suffered relegation to League One after Reading-sub Yakou Meite's 93rd-minute equalizer within the 9 minutes of added-time. The equaliser made it mathematically impossible for Wigan to retain their status of a Championship club, following their League One title win in the previous season. Wigan needed all three points.

With their 2nd tier fate hanging in the balance, Latics appeared poised to boost their chances of survival and draw level on points with Reading, should they of come away with all three. Thanks to an astonishing goal from centre-back Charlie Hughes' header in the last ten' of the game, it sent Wigan a goal up and clinging on to a place in the Championship. However, it was an error from old-boy goalkeeper Jamie Jones from a corner that allowed Meite to score from close range, securing a valuable point for Reading in their hopes to also evade relegation this season. The result leaves Reading just one point behind safety, but with two more games played than Huddersfield Town, their closest competitors. If other outcomes don't go their way, Reading could also face relegation - before their final game of the season, next weekend.

Less than a year ago, things were looking up for Wigan Athletic. They had recently been promoted to the second tier, and their fans were optimistic about the future under new ownership. After beating the likes of MK Dons and Rotherham United to the League One title in 2021-22, it seemed like they had a rather decent chance of staying in the Championship with the right players coming in.

Unfortunately, things didn't go to plan for the club and the respective fans as the club's manager, Leam Richardson, was given the sack in November after going winless in a string of 7 consecutive games, leaving Wigan sat in the relegation zone. Wigan's then infamous managerial appointment of former Premier League Leicester City defensive coach Kolo Touré did not help, either. Touré was gone within two months after 0 wins and 3 draws in 9 games. The goals conceded during Touré's reign turned out to be one of the deciding factors in the relegation battle, as the players and staff knew they couldn't rely on goal difference to help them out of the relegation zone - they could only rely on picking up points.

By this point, Wigan was already in serious trouble, and the appointment of Shaun Maloney as the third manager of the season unfortunately couldn't prevent them from finishing at the bottom of the league. To make matters worse, the club later received a three-point deduction while already bottom of the table, because of the owners failing to pay the staff, after a 4th occasion. Despite warning from the EFL, advising a deduction on repeat occurrence, it happened again, resulting in the immediate deduction - causing yet further tension with the ownership from the players, staff and fans.

Despite a brief period of hope during the World Cup break, Wigan's fate has now been sealed just one game before their final League game of the season, against Rotherham. For the fans, it was a forgettable campaign that will not be remembered fondly, however, what is next for The Latics?

With the recent appointment of Wigan legend Shaun Maloney at the end of January, following his stint as Hibernian manager in the Scottish Premiership, the fans seem to have looked for the most part optimistic, regarding Maloney's managerial position and attitude towards the club - so, we can't see Shaun going anywhere, anytime soon. In terms of current squad depth, there are quite a few player contracts due to expire for Wigan this summer - and just like everyone else, we have seen the lacklustre performances from Wigan this season, too. We feel a complete overhaul of fresh new faces in certain key areas where we have seen regression since last season might just be the secret to another successful League One campaign for Latics next season.

Some specific areas on the field need tightening up, some need more pace and some simply just need replacing - including midfielders, forwards and even goalkeepers. The only area we find strong momentarily is the defence, especially since the appointment of Maloney. It seems since the concession of the 12 goals in those 3 consecutive games to Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland, the team have fought harder in defence to avoid any more embarrassing score-lines. Players like Charlie Hughes and Tom Pearce from Wigan's academy, Jack Whatmough signed from Portsmouth in the previous season and Jason Kerr from St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership are the particular young Wigan defenders who all have a while left on their contracts as of yet - and may just be the bread and butter behind the squad next season.

Whether the Latics bring in more players to help boost the squad depth and quality, or whether they use more academy stars, it definitely seems they still already have the quality to play and perform at high standards in League One. Could we see Wigan shoot straight back up to the Championship next season after a strong re-build, or do we expect to see a different approach from the owners, where we see Wigan sitting comfortably mid-table.

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