The Newcastle situation – a manager doing very well, but being told he ‘wasn’t good enough’ by those above him, who (another common theme) seem to know less about the game than the manager himself – is not the only such occurrence of this happening.
Tottenham sacked the really-appreciated Martin Jol, supposedly because he said that Tottenham were unlikely in the near future to be able to break into the top four. There followed the inappropriate appointment of Juande Ramos, a supposedly better manager. Only when they (in effect) admitted they’d been wrong and replaced him with Harry Redknapp did Tottenham manage to climb back up the table from the bottom, to which they’d sunk under Ramos (a pleasant enough man but not right for Tottenham).
Middlesbrough sacked Gareth Southgate, an intelligent manager who knew all sorts of things, and was guiding the team into a new way of playing. But those higher up thought they knew better. They brought in Gordon Strachan (again, a pleasant enough man with a sense of humour) but they had to admit (in effect) that they’d got it wrong when they sacked him, also. Middlesbrough, in case we’re unaware, are now 2nd-from-bottom in the Championship. I suggest that had they stuck with Southgate they might, instead, have returned to the Premiership along with West Brom and Newcastle.
Chelsea sacked the well-liked and really-appreciated Ray Wilkins and suddenly Chelsea have changed from beating everyone to beating (almost) no-one. At this stage those higher up at Chelsea won’t want to admit they’ve also got it wrong. We’ll see what happens next. And at Newcastle we’ll also see what happens next. I would not be at all surprised if Newcastle now do the Tottenham-Middlesbrough-Burnley-Aston Villa (although in those last two it was the manager who chose to change) swan dive.
Here at Wigan Athletic we now have a manager who is Wigan through-and-through. Even his detractors cannot suggest that is not the case. He has reformed the Youth and Reserves set-up, and they are both performing better than before (see the relevant current information about these teams) and unsurprisingly, the team at the top of the pile, the First Team, that has the sternest opposition, is taking a little longer to gel.
We have had tasters of what the team can achieve under Roberto: Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal last season, Tottenham-away this season, and generally better performances. It is just the results that haven’t reflected those performances. If you listen to what Roberto is saying at the moment, you’ll know that that is his next (and immediate) target: to have the results reflect the performances. The Youth Team and the Reserves are showing that Roberto’s method is a proven one. (See Swansea before he came here, as well.) But we must be patient.
‘The Wigan manager has said he believes the club didn`t give Hughton enough time to lay any foundations,’ is one newspaper quote. And from Roberto himself: ‘It is a … sign of the modern game when too many people look at the short-term project rather than having a longer ambition.’ We here have a manager who, as we`ve said, is Wigan through-and-through. He has a long-term plan for this club. There are already signs that the plan is sound and is succeeding. We must try to resist the impulse that says, ‘I want my team to play well now!‘ (I`m afraid that`s the way my grandson talks.)
It is common to want to let off steam on forums like this when we’re disappointed in individual games (or because Thomas missed that `sitter`: he knows!). Much better to show that we are fully supportive of our manager’s ambitions for this club – because they are much higher than our ambitions – because he is Wigan Athletic through-and-through and he is here for the long-term. He is not one of those short-term people who is using Wigan just as a stepping stone. Some here only want to stay in this division and no more. His target is much higher. Let us support him and the team to achieve the unthinkable – as Dave Whelan did 15 years ago: ‘The Premiership in 10 years’: achieved, despite the sceptical ones who laughed.
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