Shaun Wane's 2017 could not have started any better; a 22-6 victory over Cronulla meant that Wigan were World Champions in February. Yet, wind the clock forward a year and the former Wigan forward is now under more pressure than ever to deliver a trophy.

A dismal 2017 season

The Warriors' 2017 Super League season could not have gone much worse; their sixth-placed finish at the end of the Super 8s was Wigan's lowest-ranked placing since 2009. Not only were Wigan's results bad, but their performances on the field left a lot to be desired. Despite being hampered by an awful injury list - which, at one point, saw 11 players sat on the sidelines - the likes of George Williams, Tommy Leuluai, and Sam Tomkins were still in and around the team for much of the year.

Week-in, week-out Wane highlighted his side's injury list as though he could do nothing about the below-par performances on the field, despite the fact that Widnes had more out than Wigan at one stage of the season. But, how often did Denis Betts bemoan his side's injuries? Not half as much as Wane. Was Wane's obsession with his side's injuries just an excuse to deflect some of the pressure he was under?

Clueless on the training field?

George Williams is a classy half-back, but, he cannot do it on his own. This is a fact which was made so obvious in 2017; the Warriors' side lacked organisation, structure and flair which would have enabled Williams to do what he does best: find holes in the opposition's defence with his elusive running game. Too often Wigan looked devoid of ideas; nobody can say that this does not come down to the coach and what he says or tries to implement in training.

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Lack of transfer activity

Though the injuries Wigan suffered in 2017 are unlikely to be repeated in 2018, the Warriors have added only two players to their squad for the upcoming season. The relatively unknown forward Gabriel Hamlin and former Wigan player Dan Sarginson are not exactly the type of signings that will inspire fans to buy a season ticket. The fact that the former does not even have his own Wikipedia page speaks volumes about how much of an impact he had in the NRL.

If the lack of wow signings hasn't riled Wigan fans already, the loss of two Wigan stalwarts - Anthony Gelling and Michael McIlorum - is likely to leave fans tearing their hair out. Yes, Wigan youngster Josh Ganson is waiting in the wings to take over the hooking duties in the future, but he is unlikely to be thrown into the deep end straightaway in 2018. Instead, Wane has attempted to the cover the loss of McIlorum by promoting Tommy Leuluai from half-back to hooker with Sam Powell going the other way. Leuluai's move to his international position was apparently one he requested which begs the question, is Wane losing his grip on the squad?

Success in perspective

Since taking over the reins at the end of 2011, Wane has led the Warriors to two Grand Final victories, one Challenge Cup victory and a World Club Challenge triumph alongside one first-placed finish.

Though at first glance, these accolades may appear impressive, Wane has been Wigan boss for six seasons; his predecessor Michael Maguire coached Wigan to a League Leaders' Shield (2010), one Grand Final victory (2010), and one Challenge Cup success (2011) in just two years. To put it in layman's terms, Maguire won three major honours in just two seasons whilst Wane has achieved five in triple the amount of time.

After narrowly missing out on another Challenge Cup success last year, Wigan ended 2017 with no domestic trophy. And, Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan is not the sort of person to let his club extend this trophy-less drought to two years. Lenagan rarely speaks out in public about his support for Wigan coaches, but, one cannot dismiss the idea that if Wigan's chances of getting in the Super League top four or near the Challenge Cup Final are looking doubtful, then Lenagan could act. It is the success that Wigan are used to that could prove Wane's downfall in 2018 if he does not get results. #RugbyLeague #RL #WiganWarriors