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2012-13 season in review: Wigan Athletic

icon sackbossWigan surprisingly won the FA Cup but their league form suffered, meaning they will play in Europe and the Championship next season

Shaun Maloney curls the ball into the area and Ben Watson rises at the near post, making a perfect contact with the ball that flies past Joe Hart. To see Wigan Athletic win the FA Cup was surreal for the fans who had supported them from non-League. They will be disappointed with Roberto Martínez's decision to leave but he achieved miracles in the last four seasons with a Championship-sized budget.

Wigan have beaten all the top teams during his time in charge, a particular highlight being the 1-0 victory over Manchester United in April 2012 that had a major effect on the outcome of the title. As well as bringing through youngsters, Martínez has inspired and improved older players such as Shaun Maloney, whose career seemed to be going nowhere when Celtic released him. Wigan have also picked up some great bargains from all corners of the world. Arouna Koné, James McCarthy, James McArthur, Antolín Alcaraz, Iván Ramis, and Roger Espinoza were signed for a combined total of under £10 million.

The player exodus has already begun. Loan signings Joel Robles, Ángelo Henríquez and Paul Scharner all returned to their host club while Koné, McCarthy and Callum McManaman are among those likely to attract interest from Premier League teams and five others are out of contract. Transfer funds will be available to the new manager but it will be a major rebuilding job, with Europa League fixtures added to a lengthy Championship campaign.

The FA Cup run inevitably had a detrimental impact on league results, with the team having to play four games in 11 days. Yet they still missed out on survival by only four points. Following the defeat at Arsenal that sealed Wigan's relegation the critics were out in force, pointing to a poor defensive record, lack of goals and Martínez's weaknesses as a manager.

But the truth is that very few clubs would have escaped the drop with the plague of injuries they endured. The catalogue of defensive injuries was catastrophic. Club captain Gary Caldwell was dogged by a troublesome hip problems, Alcaraz missed more than two-thirds of the campaign, new recruit Ramis has been out since January, while Maynor Figueroa, Jean Beausejour and Ronnie Stam were all injured in the final stages of the season.

Dave Whelan has stated his desire to get back to the Premier League at the first attempt but realistically, given all the changes at the club, probably the best we can now hope for is a season of stability in the Championship. Ian Aspinall


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