Wigan season review
FA Cup glory followed by relegation heartache - it has been an extraordinary season for Wigan Athletic as their eight-year stay in the Premier League finally came to an end. Adam Bate looks back on a season that will be talked about for years to come.
Last Updated: 21/05/13 11:08am
They say all seasons have their highs and lows. It's hard to believe many can ever have matched Wigan's 2012-13 campaign in that regard. A first major trophy in the club's 81-year history came in dramatic circumstances on a memorable Saturday. By Tuesday evening , the Latics experienced the disappointment of relegation from the top flight for the first time in their existence.
Wigan had a reputation as escapology specialists and a run of three wins in four games suggested a repeat was on the cards. But a televised home defeat to Swansea scuppered momentum and there was no way back. Did the FA Cup prove a distraction? More importantly, does anybody who cheered Ben Watson's stoppage-time header that downed Manchester City at Wembley really care?
Player of the Year
Shaun Maloney has always been one of those players whose skills are easy on the eye but it has taken the Scotland international a long time to come to the fore in the Premier League. His winner against Manchester United last season gave him confidence and he has emerged as an important figure for Roberto Martinez's team. So often shunted to the flanks, the Wigan system suits him and he is one of many who deserved better than relegation this season.
Ratings Player of the Year
Shaun Maloney takes the honour of best player based on the ratings of Sky Sports reporters throughout the season with an average of 7.0. However, our user ratings rank goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi as the team's player of the year with 6.8. That's particularly surprising given that the Oman international was axed towards the end of the season in favour of on-loan Spanish goalkeeper Joel Robles.
Breakthrough Player of the Year
Back in March it had seemed that Callum McManaman was making his breakthrough for all the wrong reasons. The young winger's appalling tackle on Massadio Haidara shocked football fans, not least because the offence went unpunished both at the time and retrospectively. But McManaman showed why he is so highly rated at the DW Stadium with a starring role in the team's FA Cup run including a stunning man-of-the-match display in the Wembley win over Man City.
Signing of the Year
Swansea star Michu may have become the byword for bargains from La Liga but Arouna Kone was another cut-price arrival from Spain who enjoyed a fine season. The 29-year-old Ivory Coast international joined the Latics for a reported €3.5million last summer after scoring 15 league goals for Levante in the previous campaign. With 11 Premier League goals plus two more in Wigan's FA Cup run, Kone has more than justified than fee.
Could do better
Gary Caldwell won Wigan's player of the year award for 2011-12 so their skipper was expected to be a key figure this season. Unfortunately, injuries ruined his campaign. "I have not trained properly for six months," admitted Caldwell recently. "When I do I have to take an injection and I get two of them to help me through games. It's been hard because I want to contribute, I want to help, but if you are not 100 per cent there's no point being on the park." Supporters might well wonder whether they'd still be watching Premier League football next season if the influential Scot had been fit.
It is difficult not to be impressed by Roberto Martinez. He always speaks well and has empowered his players, showing great belief in them to play a progressive passing game. The FA Cup triumph should be seen as a reward for that approach as well as the loyalty he showed the club last summer. Of course, the man himself will be devastated to have his optimism shaken by relegation but he should not be too down on himself - Wigan have run the gauntlet down the years and the sad reality is that it was only a matter of time before it caught up with them. They leave with special memories.
Jamie Redknapp's view
I had a feeling this could be the year they go down. They've lost Victor Moses and Charles N'Zogbia in the last few years - good players - and, although Arouna Kone came in and did a great job, the team as a whole have just been so inconsistent. At times they have been magnificent this year and at other times they've been beaten heavily. It's a shame because I think they'll lose Roberto Martinez now. But they've won the FA Cup and, although it isn't as financially rewarding as staying up, those are memories that will stay with the players and fans forever.