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Team Sorted

Wigan’s Recruitment Drive Hampered By Hutchings Appointment

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Cody Strunk

Although Cody Strunk may have a name more in keeping with those who don low-quality knitwear on USA golf courses, his passion is very much for the beautiful game...
[full biography]
18/05/2007 09:00:00.
read: 1180 times.

Less than 24 hours after the heroics at Bramall Lane that enabled Wigan Athletic to secure their Premiership status for another season, supporters of The Latics had their spirits dampened somewhat by the news that manager Paul Jewell had tendered his resignation with immediate effect. It’s unlikely that too many were feeling much more positive when it was later announced by Chairman Dave Whelan that Jewell’s assistant, Chris Hutchings, had been promoted to the top job.

Hutchings may well have been an able assistant to Jewell and it could also be argued that it is unfair to judge him on his short stint at Bradford City (where he also succeeded Jewell under vaguely similar circumstances seven years ago), but there have to be doubts as to whether the new manager has the requisite status in the game to be able to attract the calibre of player required to the JJB Stadium.

Whelan has already pledged to give Hutchings up to £20 million to spend on new players over the summer. That’s all well and good, but Wigan have had enough problems recruiting and retaining players under the charismatic Jewell, so quite how the Chairman envisages the appointment of the relatively unknown and inexperienced Hutchings being one that will change that situation for the better is unclear. Although Wigan can match most of their Premiership peers it terms of transfer fees and salaries, they are sadly lacking when it comes to history and support, factors that seem to deter many a potential signing.

Whether or not Hutchings is deserving of a chance, it is difficult to see how he is going to attract top quality players to the club, especially if there is anything resembling competition for a signature. The reality is that Wigan are likely to have to look far and wide for their summer signings and will need to act quickly and decisively if they are to secure the players they want before their top-flight rivals move in.

There is also the problem of keeping hold of their current players. Last summer’s exodus of Jimmy Bullard, Jason Roberts, Pascal Chimbonda and Graham Kavanagh was a significant blow to the club’s attempts to build on the success of the previous campaign. Sunday’s match-winner, David Unsworth, and former captain, Arjan De Zeeuw, have already been released, while Lee McCulloch has long seemed destined for a move to Rangers. Keeping hold of Leighton Baines, Emile Heskey, Emmerson Boyce and Paul Scharner must be priorities if Hutchings is to have any hope of building on the foundations laid by Jewell.

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