I wasn’t overly distraught over Warren Joyce being relieved of his duties. I felt very sorry for him, both because it wasn’t working out and I don’t like to see anybody lose their job.
Yet after Saturday, it became apparent to most fans that this couldn’t continue. There has still been a small minority of voices standing behind Joyce to the bitter end, oblivious to the shortcomings on the field, but essentially this was the same group who were so vociferously against Gary Caldwell during his tenure.
My take on Joyce is that he is probably an excellent coach but sometimes that doesn’t translate into being a good manager. He also worked under one of the most unique managers of all time. Sir Alex Ferguson was renowned for being a control freak, capable of managing every element of a football club and commanding respect.
The people he employed knew exactly what to do and were good at it because Fergie made it absolutely clear to them. When faced with a change from doing what they are told to having to be the boss, not just Warren Joyce but Rene Meulensteen and Mike Phelan have all fallen short. “Fergie’s cone collectors” as one City fan called them in somewhat derogatory terms, but none from me and I’m sure Warren will get fixed up soon in coaching again.
So the cycle begins again and the appointment of Graham Barrow has been met with the same heraldry/outrage (as ever, delete as appropriate). As another “reluctant manager” it is not a long term solution but the fact that Barrow has been sidelined for much of the Joyce era in favour of Andy Welsh, bears similarity to the time that Mackay brought David Kerslake in or Coyle had that big Sandy chap waddling down the touchline.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing for a manager to have their own number two but again, the suggestion in some quarters that Graham Barrow has been the problem all along is farcical. What we have desperately needed since 2013 is continuity, and Barrow provides that. He has been part of the low points but he has also been a part of all the highs. He has seen what has worked and seen what doesn’t and he is Wigan Athletic through and through.
It will be a tough start for him on Saturday, the easier to win games are now sadly behind us and yielded a pitiful points haul. Villa were struggling a bit when we played at their place but now seem to be pulling away to the top half having spent a fortune (again) in January.
Yet there is a positive mood amongst the fans at the suggestion that we will be ditching the turgid, defensive play that got us into this mess and at least have a go at teams for the rest of the season. Regardless of whether it’s too late or not, I’m sure we all fancy a bit of that!
Article first published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 17th March 2017
Hear Jimmy’s pre-sacking thoughts on Warren Joyce by listening to the Pie at Night podcast. Episode 20 – shy talk and the lost causes is available now via your favourite podcast app or on the player below.