Results and style below expectations
5 December ~ In the 29th minute of Wigan's match against Derby last Sunday, with the team already 3-0 down, the DW stadium reverberated with choruses "Coyle out". This wasn't a racket caused by impatience – it was down to dashed expectations. Though Wigan never reached the depths of the Championship, the football they have played this season was all too often uneven and predictable. Expectations of a return to the Premier League after a single season had been high, with the club being Championship's second biggest spenders in the summer.
Early season teething problems had been expected in a team containing several new signings. But despite a 4-0 win at Barnsley on the opening day, it wasn't long before early optimism soured. Not all Wigan fans took to Roberto Martínez and certainly some results were abysmal, such as the 9-1 loss against Tottenham in November 2009, but his tactics won the FA Cup in style and his legacy weighed heavily on Coyle. It didn't help that the new manager had led rivals Bolton Wanderers to relegation and then to the bottom of the Championship and faint boos had greeted his name when it was announced before a pre-season match against Dundee United.
The performance in the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Community Shield was a particular disappointment – fans did not expect a repeat of May's Wembley exploits but hoped for more than a performance based on hopeless long balls easily headed away by Nemanja Vidic. After being booed off the pitch following a terrible first-half performance in going two down against Doncaster Rovers in late August, a re-energized side did at least recover to force a 2-2 draw. After that the team slowly adopted a more pleasing playing style with less reliance on the long punt forward, especially in the Europa League home matches.
The post-Europe fixtures had been a success with three wins out of four. Until the match against Derby County last weekend, when the visitors cut through Wigan in a 3-1 win. Steve McClaren said that his side had benefitted from their opponents' exhausting fixture list but the team's familiar failings came back into focus. Under pressure the team returned to the basic tactics of earlier in the season which left their two strikers isolated. In all competitions Coyle had won seven matches in 23; the Wigan fans and board were expecting more and three consecutive losses at home finished off Coyle's brief tenure. Iain Anderson