WHIS­PER IT, BUT WEM­B­LEY’S CLOSE

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Ed Higgs

FEW peo­ple sym­bol­ise the Wi­gan Ath­letic roller­coaster quite like Tim Chow. From FA Cup win­ners in 2013 to the third tier this sea­son, the Lat­ics have en­dured a dra­matic fall from grace.

How­ever, it is one that boss Gary Cald­well – just seven months into his first man­age­rial job – has set out to re­verse, be­gin­ning with a nine-match un­beaten league run.

Add to that a 4-0 thump­ing of Black­pool in the John­stone’s Paint Tro­phy last week and Wi­gan are just 180 min­utes from a re­turn to Wem­b­ley.

Then there is Chow, 21, the mid­fielder who was told in March he was sur­plus to re­quire­ments at the DW Sta­dium.

Cald­well took over in April and Chow has not looked back, net­ting his first se­nior goal that month and emerg­ing as a cog in the Wi­gan side this sea­son – with an eye on the big stage.

“Wem­b­ley is writ­ten into the club’s re­cent DNA,” he said. “It’s about keep­ing it in the back of our minds now we are close.

“Gary has given us the op­por­tu­nity to get there again. He has given ev­ery­one a chance, as he has done all sea­son.

“He made a lot of changes for the two cup games and he’s ba­si­cally just said to us ‘It’s up to you – you pick the team your­selves. If you play well, then you’ll keep your place’.

“I think you can see 11 hun­gry lads out there all try­ing to get into the team in any game.”

As­sem­bled

If you ask Chow, the se­cret to Wi­gan’s se­cret suc­cess is sim­ple: it’s Cald­well.

The man­ager, who called time on his play­ing ca­reer back in Fe­bru­ary af­ter a long-term hip in­jury, as­sem­bled a new-look squad ahead of this sea­son

“I don’t think you can put a value on the im­pact that Gary’s had,” said Chow.

“You can’t un­der­es­ti­mate how much he’s done – not just Gary but the en­tire back­room staff. They’ve been great.

“They’ve put to­gether a whole new team, ba­si­cally, and it’s credit to them be­cause they’ve brought in some great char­ac­ters and some good play­ers.

“When the man­ager came in at the end of last sea­son, I think you saw straight away in the per­for­mances in the last five games of the sea­son that there was a change around at the club.

“Bring­ing in so many new faces over the close sea­son was a fresh start and there was no han­gover from last sea­son.”

Their cam­paign last term was in­deed bleak as the Lat­ics went from play-off semi-fi­nal­ists the pre­vi­ous year to peren­nial strug­glers, even­tu­ally suc­cumb­ing to rel­e­ga­tion into League One.

But the dark­est days ap­pear to be be­hind them, with Cald­well’s troops head­ing into the week­end just five points adrift of the top two.

Com­bi­na­tion

That has been achieved in a sys­tem that suits Chow – a tidy mid­fielder with a wise head on young shoul­ders – just fine.

“The way we play, the pass­ing style, it’s a com­bi­na­tion of con­fi­dence and how Gary wants us to play,” he added.

“That’s his blueprint and that’s what he brought in from the end of last sea­son and what we’ve worked hard on from day one in pre-sea­son to where we are now.

“It took a couple of weeks to get go­ing with a lot of new faces, but you can see his im­pact now.

“As for me, I’m just try­ing to get into that start­ing XI”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

WEM­B­LEY IN SIGHT: Wi­gan Ath­letic’s Tim Chow owes a rise in for­tune to the new boss

IM­PACT: Gary Cald­well

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