CaughtOffside 2012/13 Report: Wigan Athletic – Season Review, Best Player, Worst Player & Grade

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A look back at Wigan in the 2012/13 season.

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Roberto Martinez was an in-demand manager in the summer of 2012 after miraculously saving Wigan from relegation from the Premier League. The Latics looked dead and buried with not long in the season remaining, but hit some superb form late on, beating the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal to claim survival. They did so playing an attractive brand of football that saw Martinez hailed for his work, and the Spaniard emerged as a strong candidate for the Liverpool job, though it eventually went to Brendan Rodgers of Swansea.

Martinez stayed at the DW Stadium to try and improve the club’s performances this year. Unfortunately, key players Hugo Rodallega and Mohamed Diame both left on free transfers to Fulham and West Ham, respectively, and Victor Moses was signed for £9million by Chelsea. Martinez used the money to bring in Spanish defender Ivan Ramis from Mallorca, and Ivory Coast striker Arouna Kone from Levante. Arsenal youngster Ryo Miyaichi also joined the club on loan.

It was important for the side to get off to a better start this season, but that was not the case as they got off to the worst start possible in their opening game against Chelsea. The Blues scored after just two minutes and doubled their lead after seven, and although Wigan managed to stop the scoring there, the bad start to the game cost them and they were beaten on the first day of what would be a long season.

They won only one game in their first eight in the league, which came 2-0 away to newly-promoted Southampton. They were thrashed 4-0 by Manchester United at Old Trafford, and also suffered defeats to the likes of Fulham and Swansea. However, they recovered with good wins against West Ham, 2-1, and Tottenham, who they sprung a surprise on to beat 1-0 at White Hart Lane with a Ben Watson winner.

Kone Reading

However, they again went on a poor run of just one win in nine games, finding themselves comfortably beaten by the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, though they pushed Arsenal close in a 1-0 home defeat. They then lost away to Everton but stopped the rot with an impressive 3-0 away win at fellow-strugglers Aston Villa. In their second meeting of the season with Manchester United they were beaten 4-0 again, unable to reproduce their memorable 1-0 win at the DW Stadium from last season. Things picked up a bit though, as they progressed in the FA Cup and picked up a few more draws and wins in the league, earning a point in difficult away games at Fulham and Stoke, and picking up wins against Reading, Newcastle and Norwich – all teams who were near the bottom of the table themselves.

The FA Cup brought one of their best displays of the season, as they produced a surprise 3-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park to book a place in the semi-finals. Despite their relegation worries, they were giving their fans something to be excited about with a trip to Wembley, and were fortunate to find themselves with a perfectly winnable tie, as they beat Championship side Millwall 2-0 to reach their first ever FA Cup final, where they would face Manchester City, who beat Chelsea in the other semi-final – a game many thought was basically the decider of the tournament, with either side’s potential opponents in the final being serious underdogs.

They met City immediately afterwards in the league, and lost a close game 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium. They then lost to West Ham and conceded a poor late equaliser at home to Tottenham through an Emerson Boyce on goal to really compound their relegation worries. With results picking up for the teams around them, time was running out for the Latics to save themselves and their top flight status.

They recovered to record an impressive 3-2 away win at West Brom, but were then in trouble again as they lost 3-2 at home to Swansea, a game in which they twice through away the lead. They would need to win in their next game, a daunting away trip to Arsenal, to keep themselves in with a chance of staying up.

For one day, however, their minds were off those worries, as they enjoyed a meeting with Manchester City in the FA Cup final. City were desperate to win a trophy after letting their title slip to rivals Manchester United, and were huge favourites to beat lowly Wigan at Wembley. However, they struggled to get going, and Wigan’s confidence slowly grew, with young winger Callum McManaman putting in an excellent performance to trouble City’s defence. Eventually, as the game looked to be heading into extra time with the score still at 0-0, Ben Watson rose from a corner to head home an incredible winner, and give the Latics their first ever major trophy in one of the biggest FA Cup final upsets in decades.

Wigan were right to celebrate, but they ran the risk of becoming the first ever side to win the FA Cup and be relegated in the same season. Next up, they faced Arsenal. The Gunners were in fine form and took an early lead through Lukas Podolski, though an excellent free kick from Shaun Maloney brought the visitors back into the game just before half time. Sadly, quality told, and Arsenal produced a great second half display to cut Wigan open and win 4-1, sending them down to the Championship after eight years in the Premier League.

They bid farewell to the Premier League with a 2-2 draw against Aston Villa on the final day, finishing 18th and joining Reading and Queens Park Rangers as dropping to the second tier of English football for next season.

Shaun Maloney

Best player: Shaun Maloney

A player of great ability who managed once again to stand out in this poor Wigan side. His 6 goals and 8 assists gave Martinez’s side a fighting chance, and it would be no surprise to see him return to the Premier League with another team next season. Special mention should also go to Arouna Kone, who turned out to be a good signing with 11 goals and 5 assists.

Worst player: Gary Caldwell

A regular starter for Wigan and a regular poor performer. It can’t be easy being a defender in a poor side fighting relegation, but the Scot is also a reason for their misfortune, as he isn’t a player who shold be playing so often in one of the best leagues in the world.

Final grade: D-

For relegation and for their regular thrashings in the Premier League, they perhaps deserve the F given to QPR and Reading, but there’s no denying that their FA Cup win was an excellent achievement against all the odds. They may struggle after finally losing their highly-rated manager Martinez to Everton, but the money from inevitable sales of some of their best players could give them enough to build a good team again and make a comeback.

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