Hutchings wishes best for successor Bruce

November 20, 2007

Former Wigan boss Chris Hutchings believes Steve Bruce will inherit a stronger squad of players at the JJB Stadium than he left behind at fellow strugglers Birmingham.

Wigan owner Dave Whelan confirmed Bruce would be taking over as the club's new manager yesterday after six years at St Andrews. He replaces Hutchings who parted company with the club on November 5.

It will be the 46-year-old's second spell at Wigan following a brief period at the end of the 2000/01 season and he inherits a team embroiled in the relegation battle.

Seven consecutive defeats have left them second bottom in the Barclays Premier League although they are just two points from safety - and three adrift of Bruce's former charges.

However, Hutchings believes Bruce will find a strong squad at the JJB who are more than capable of climbing away from the drop zone.

Asked about how he believes Bruce will fare, Hutchings told BBC Radio Five Live: 'It is difficult, a couple of years back he was at the club for six to eight games.

'So people at the club already know him, he's got a good track record of getting people up and this year is going to be a big test for him.

'But you have to kind of hang in there and he has got a good squad of players.

'When he looks at the Wigan squad and the Birmingham squad he'll maybe think the Wigan squad is slightly stronger.'

Under Hutchings the Latics briefly topped the table but have not claimed a league victory since August.

However, Paul Jewell's former assistant feels his exit was premature, especially in the light of injuries to the likes of Emile Heskey and Antoine Sibierski, the latter having scored in each of the opening three games before being sidelined with a hamstring injury.

'It is brutal,' he added. 'I don't feel as a manager I was given enough time and I look at (ex-Bolton boss) Sammy Lee and the same sort of thing happened to him.

'So you hope the chairmen are brave enough to stand by people when the team are struggling and in my case we had two players injured for periods of time that affected the problem.'