Wigan's season is a PR disaster, says ex-player Kevin Kilbane

Kevin Kilbane
Kevin Kilbane signed for Wigan Athletic for £2million in 2006

Kevin Kilbane says Wigan's season has been a "public relations disaster" with players failing to handle the pressure.

Gary Caldwell is the Latics's third manager of the campaign and the club are seven points adrift of Championship safety with four games left.

In December Dave Whelan was fined and banned from football-related activity for six weeks for racist comments before resigning as chairman.

"It was just one PR disaster after another," Kilbane told BBC Sport.

The 38-year-old, who spent nearly three years with Wigan, says off-the-field issues have been reflected on the pitch.

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On Wednesday, Malky Mackay, 43, was sacked after just 138 days in charge by new chairman David Sharpe - Whelan's 23-year-old grandson.

Mackay replaced Uwe Rosler, who was sacked in November 2014 after less than 12 months in charge - despite reaching the play-offs last season.

But Mackay's appointment caused controversy as the Scot remains under investigation by the Football Association over claims he sent texts of a homophobic, racist and sexist nature while at Cardiff.

"This season has just been a complete disaster for them," added Kilbane. "The players obviously weren't responding to what Uwe Rosler was saying.

"Then Malky Mackay comes in and, I'm not saying Malky wasn't right for the job long term, but it was the wrong time to appoint him.

"There was always going to be a lot of pressure. That's transcended onto the pitch.

"It's about the performances on the pitch and the players couldn't handle the pressure."

Despite Friday's battling 2-2 draw at Fulham, Kilbane expects Wigan to be playing League One football next season, but hopes the club can rebuild under another ex-Latics defender in Caldwell, 33.

Gary Caldwell
Gary Caldwell was an FA Cup-winner with Wigan in 2013

"I was probably slightly surprised because of his lack of experience," said the former Republic of Ireland international.

"It might be something of an exciting appointment. The chairman has said he's going to be a long-term appointment.

"It's not going to be a quick fix, they're looking for something for the next four or five years."