By Sean Butters
IF IT wasn’t for his old East German passport you’d be forgiven for thinking England was home to Wigan boss Uwe Rosler.
Manchester in particular has always held a special place in his heart, ever since he pitched up from FC Nurnberg in 1994 and endeared himself to City fans with his ability and work rate in equal measure.
Rosler’s four years at City brought 65 goals, a wife, the birth of his first son and a lifelong bond with the club which later helped him see off cancer – two relegations didn’t even blot his copybook.
Rosler was already living in the north west – City helped him find a school for his children in Manchester – when he returned to England to manage Brentford in 2011, and his youngest son, named after Sky Blues legend Colin Bell, is now in their academy.
So when Wigan, 20 miles away from Manchester city centre, came in to offer him a job once Owen Coyle’s rocky six-month stint was ended in December, it gave him something more than a chance to leap up a division.
“The days at City were the best, not just in football but also privately,” said Rosler, little over a month into his latest project at the Latics.
“I met my wife, my first son was born there, I met friends for life. It feels like I have come back – I left in 1998 and obviously it shows how important the area is to me.
“In 2012 I moved my family back here. City as a football player was my best time.”
Rosler’s ambition still burns as brightly as it did 20 years ago, however, and he is adamant that it can be satisfied at the Latics. In Dave Whelan, he has a chairman who will undoubtedly give him time. Coyle was an exception to the rule – the former Bolton manager was falling short on his pre-season brief to return Premier League football to the DW Stadium at the first time of asking.
Rosler has 18 months, and that’s ample time according to the 45-year-old.
“Wigan Athletic gives me all the opportunities I want. Everything that I am driving for and want to achieve in this country, this club can and will give me,” added Rosler, born and raised in East Germany before the reunification in 1989.
“Now it is up to me and my staff and the players to get into the Premier League in the next 18 months. At the moment that is everything I am striving for.
“When you are in the management business and taking over Wigan Athletic, we are in the position where this club can offer you a lot of possibilities.
“Obviously at the moment we are not in the position where we are fighting for automatic promotion.
“But of course that is a job a lot of people are after and I’m very happy and very privileged to get the word of the chairman to manage this football club.
“What I was excited about was the stable ownership and finances in the football club, the short line of communication between me, Jonathan Jackson the CEO and the chairman – that means decisions can be made quickly when needed. Coming here was very attractive, it’s a level higher up. Also the fact that my family live in the north west, it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“I understand that this club has the expectation in me to get them back in the Premier League in the next 18 months.
“That’s what I get judged on and of course you can’t plan it like many other things in life. You put yourself through hard work and desire to be in a position to succeed and that’s what I want to do.”
Rosler left behind the Football League’s in-form club – Brentford racked up their tenth straight home league victory on Tuesday and are in a great position to make up for last season’s play-off heartbreak.
So it’s easy to see why, despite all that Wigan offered, it was still a gut-wrenching decision to clear his desk at Griffin Park.
“To leave that behind me and give the glory to another person was obviously hard for me,” continued Rosler. “But Wigan Athletic were calling, for me and that was a fantastic opportunity.
“It’s a chance with the squad I have already, and the stable finances, that I can bring my philosophy and way of playing and hopefully my type of players to the club, who I believe will be successful in the end.
“It was a very hard decision to leave Brentford. I thoroughly believed in the squad that I had put together with the sporting director and the owner. We had these young players who I gave the chance to play first-team football to when lots of them never had before.
“The experience they have gained from the previous years, through disappointment with Doncaster, the disappointment at Wembley, I thoroughly thought this team would win promotion.”
Wigan, free from their Europa League burden that no doubt hampered Coyle’s tine as manager, have been buoyed since Rosler’s arrival.
The Latics’ FA Cup defence is still alive after they knocked out Premier League Crystal Palace last weekend, while the Championship play-offs are no longer a forlorn hope.
One league defeat in eight before this weekend’s clash at home to Charlton has rekindled spirits, and the acquisition of 20-year-old Josh McEachran on loan from Chelsea smacks of the sort of player he was famed for develop- ing at the Bees.
“The expectation on Josh is that he needs to recover his form,” said Rosler. “We are not talking about his quality as a footballer, undoubtedly that is there.
“It is in terms of being ready for Championship high-tempo football, and when he starts his qualities will show. He will have to fight for his place in the team in training like any other player.
“In England everything is very personalised. When you are 19 or 20 years old it can be very difficult to overcome that and keep focus.”