BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – in La Manga – Capital City Press
Gary Caldwell once incurred the wrath of Gordon Strachan after a dramatic eleventh hour u-turn saw him shun Middlesbrough for Wigan.
But the former Celtic and Hibs defender admits the Scotland manager is now helping him in his bid to lead the Latics back to the English top-flight.
Caldwell replaced fellow countryman Malky Mackay at the DW stadium in April and has been tasked with reviving the League One outfit’s fortunes following successive relegations.
At 33 and in his first managerial posting, Caldwell admits he has already turned to Strachan, who was left disappointed when he failed in a bid to bring the centre-half to the Riverside in 2010, for advice and support.
Caldwell – a player brought to Celtic by Strachan in 2006 – said: “I speak to Gordon a lot, he’s somebody that I really respect and trust in the game.
“I’ve called him a lot throughout my career. I worked with him at Celtic and Scotland but whenever I’ve needed advice, he’s the first one I go to. I will use his help now and in the future.
“You always need mentors and people to look up to.”
Speaking from La Manga where Wigan were sharing training facilities with Hibs and Queen of the South, Caldwell added: “I also played under Tony Mowbray and I met him at a coaches conference at St George’s Park for a weekend.
“Mark Venus was there as well and it was good to catch up with them – my old Hibs manager and assistant.
“Roberto Martinez was somebody that showed me a different style of playing and coaching that really helped me later in my career.
“I’ve called those guys and I’ve used other people that I’ve worked with to prepare me for this.
“It’s great to have them on the end of the phone, maybe not Tony though because we’ve got Coventry City in the first game of the season so he won’t give me too much advice.”
Wigan were already cut adrift at the Championship basement when Caldwell took charge for the final five games of last season.
Despite the daunting challenge of trying to lead the team back up the divisions, the 55-times capped defender insists he is revelling in his new role.
He added: “I love it, it’s something from pretty young in my career I knew I wanted to do.
“I was always interested in coaching and the tactical side of the game, and obviously being a manager was something that I wanted to do.
“I did not think I would get the opportunity as young as I am but I’m really excited, looking forward to it and enjoying it.
“I spoke to a lot of people when I knew I was struggling with injury about how do you get into coaching, how do you get into management?
“And the best advice they gave me was you just have to work as hard as you can to be ready for whenever that opportunity comes, because you never know when it’s going to be.
“So I did a lot of work, did my badges, did a lot of work in the academy and prepared myself as best I could.
“You are obviously not going to be prepared for it because of the size of the job but I felt comfortable when I got the opportunity last season, and I feel comfortable now doing it.”