Pennant praises Caldwell style
IT IS impossible to judge Gary Caldwell’s managerial ability on just one game, but Wigan winger Jermaine Pennant is already sold on his new boss following Friday night’s draw at Fulham.
Pennant fired in the first of two Wigan equalisers, cancelling out Ross McCormack’s early effort with a curling free-kick, but, in truth, draws are no longer enough for the Latics.
The appointment of Caldwell on Tuesday seems to signal a return to the passing game the club were renowned for in the Roberto Martinez era and that will certainly be a welcome change of pace from the more direct, frankly ineffective, style seen under Malky Mackay.
Their resilience also cannot be questioned as Jason Pearce prodded home on 69 minutes to secure a draw once and for all after Matt Smith’s 25-yard stunner had put the hosts back in front.
However, with his troops firmly entrenched in the relegation zone and with just four games remaining, it is looking increasingly likely Caldwell will get to show his managerial skills in League One next term.
Pennant, though, remains convinced the shoots of recovery are already evident under the manager who turns 33 today.
“We showed our quality by coming to Fulham and dominating the game for 90 minutes,” said the former Liverpool winger.
“We were a bit unfortunate to not win the game and only come away with a draw.
“They had two strikes in the first half, good strikes, and we found ourselves 2-1 down but all credit to the lads, we didn’t drop our heads, we kept battling on and got the second.
“I enjoyed getting the ball down and passing it, it got me more involved, it got the players up front involved as well too and it shows just how good we are technically.
“We could have played like this ten games ago and who knows what could have happened – but each manager has got their own style.”
Caldwell’s tenure could hardly have got off to a more inauspicious start at Craven Cottage as Harry Maguire’s poor header allowed McCormack to pounce – the Scot firing in his third goal in as many games from the edge of the area.
Pennant has been a rare bright spot for Wigan since joining in February and did his best David Beckham impression to curl the equalising free-kick before Smith conjured a moment of even greater magic.
The Cottagers striker collected Ryan Tunnicliffe’s pass and floated a 25-yard effort into the top corner for his 17th goal of the campaign.
Bafflingly, Kit Symons then substituted Smith on the hour mark, much to the disgust of the home faithful – a chorus of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ directed at the boss.
That vitriol was then increased as Fulham surrendered the lead for a second time – Pennant’s corner being headed goalwards by Maguire before Pearce turned in the rebound from close range.
“It was difficult,” said Fulham striker Smith. “Their system worked pretty well against ours – we had to really dig deep and work hard for each other.
“It probably could have gone either way but I think a point is a lot more important for us as they probably needed all three.
“At this stage of the season it’s about churning out points.”
PEARCING STRIKE: Jason Pearce levels the game from close range as Wigan grab a point at Craven Cottage
scores MAC ATTACK: Ross McCormack