Plus ça change

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The King is Dead! Long live…er King Warren! Do you remember when ex-Latics custodian, that nice Nigel Adkins had catapulted Scunthorpe up the leagues, left them in the lurch to join Southampton and then repeated the exact same feat with the Saints?

Whilst sat safely in the midriff of the Premier League, there was a swell of discontent, from Saints fans and the football world alike the day his services were dispensed with by Soton (as they used to be called in condensed football results in newspapers)

Who did Southampton think they were, bringing in some foreign manager who had no experience of the English game and didn’t speak the language? How dare they get shut of a  good guy who had worked wonders to put the Saints back in the top flight?

I suppose the rest is history, as despite his basic command of the Queen’s English, he turned the Saints into a top half side, a lean, mean organised machine. I remember they came to the DW a few weeks into his reign and I remember one passage of play where every red shirt was condensed into a 10 yard strip around the centre circle: harassing, pressing, buzzing around our compressed blue shirted heroes.

It’s been quite evident that most of us thinking Wigan Athletic types, the ones who take time to write for fanzines, blogs, or craft pieces for this here column – not to be confused with the online anonymous message board snipers constantly seeking to shoot us down – have expressed exasperation over the removal of Gary Caldwell.

Yet, we are also a thoughtful, tolerant bunch by default who recognised that a rookie manager may have some shortcomings and accepted them. Even so, speaking personally, I am forward thinking enough to see that there may be a greater strategy at work.

I’m not about to compare Warren Joyce to Mauricio Pochettino. For one, it’s probable that Warren has a better command of the English language, even if he is from Oldham. Nor is he a newcomer to the English game, though he has skirted around the Wigan area to forge out a career with two of our biggest rivals.

The point I am making is that, perhaps this has been thought out, we have, as David Sharpe said, managed to identify a truly talented coach from leftfield. Maybe in six months’ time we will gleefully be saying “Gary who?” as we sit gloriously on the fringes of the play offs, playing exciting revolutionary football and wondering what all the fuss was about?

It isn’t about being right or wrong, it’s about putting your faith in the management of the club and whereas us “happy clappers” seem to have been the ones questioning the club’s decision to sack Caldwell and receiving flack for doing so, I’m sure we will also be the first to get behind the new manager, whether results improve dramatically or not.

Against this backdrop, Saturday’s game promises to be an intriguing affair against a resurgent Reading featuring a certain Ali Al Habsi between the sticks. We are only a win away from extracting ourselves out of the relegation zone. But then, we always were, weren’t we?

First published in the Wigan Evening Post ‘s 12th Man column on Friday 4th November 2016

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