The obstacles overcome by Wigan this season since Uwe Rosler took charge in December will surely stand the FA Cup holders in good stead as they attempt to regain a place in the Premier League.
Wigan ensured their dream of an instant return to the top flight remained alive last night after securing their place in the playoffs with a 1-0 away win at relegation-threatened Birmingham City, who suffered their fifth straight loss.
An early Callum McManaman strike was enough to seal the win for Rosler’s side and add to their remarkable tally this season, considering last year the playoffs were a distant hope.
“The effort the players have put in is monumental to get 73 points in such a short time,” Rosler said.
“A lot of people said it was impossible to achieve the play-offs with that fantastic FA Cup run and we did,” added the German in reference to Wigan’s bold FA Cup defence, which ran out of steam on penalties against Arsenal in the semi-finals.
The Latics’ next big task is their playoff against either Derby County or Queens Park Rangers in the first round.
“We’re not over excited, we’re keeping calm and we know what we want to achieve but we’ve achieved the first hurdle, though there are more hurdles to come,” said Rosler.
Things have all settled into place however for the former East German international, who now has one of the league’s most in-form goalkeepers to count on in the playoffs pressure cooker.
Former England international Scott Carson was the hero in a tense finish against Birmingham, twice coming to the rescue to deny Federico Macheda and Hayden Mullins to record his seventh clean sheet in just 15 league appearances for the club.
The win crowns an incredible turnaround for Wigan, who endured a turbulent start to life in the Championship under the stewardship of Owen Coyle.
The former Burnley manager was appointed to replace Everton-bound Roberto Martinez, but left the club after less than six months in charge.
A dismal run of just seven wins in 23 games left the Latics in 14th position when Rosler was appointed on December 9.
The 45-year-old, who has an emotional bond with Manchester City having made over 100 appearances for the Sky Blues, has publicly praised the club’s fans for helping him beat cancer in 2003.
Rosler also played at Southampton and West Bromwich Albion and caught the eye of chairman Dave Whelan after an impressive two years in charge of League One side Brentford.
His next playground could well be the Premier League. Few would bet against him.
Main image courtesy of LaticsOfficial via YouTube, with thanks.