Joyce sacking: From ‘perfect’ choice to ‘perilous’ position in four months

Warren Joyce with David Sharpe in November
Warren Joyce with David Sharpe in November

When Warren Joyce was appointed as Wigan Athletic manager, chairman David Sharpe described him as “the perfect man for the role”.

Latics were 22nd in the league and one point from safety following a rough re-introduction to the Championship.

But little more than four months later, his time at the helm has come to an abrupt end.

Saturday’s 1-0 defeat against Bristol City left them second-bottom of the table on 34 points, four points from safety with just nine games remaining.

They have lurched from one close loss to another - interspersed with occasional bright spots which have kept hope alive - but with time running out, the club has decided to act.

Joyce, who left a youth role with Manchester United to succeed Gary Caldwell, leaves with a record of six wins from his 24 games in charge.

His tenure got off to the worse possible start, conceding two goals in five minutes as they slipped to a 3-0 loss at home to Reading.

The rest of November picked up, with a draw at Barnsley and a win at Huddersfield, but it was a long, cold December for Latics with just one point gained from six matches before the New Year.

Fans hoped the January transfer window would give Joyce a change to reinvigorate the squad, and there was certainly a heavy turnover, with 13 new arrivals including eight on deadline day.

During that month, Latics enjoyed their best spell under Joyce, with three back-to-back wins including a 2-0 win against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup which earned them a glamour tie at Joyce’s old club Manchester United - which they lost 4-0.

In the nine games which have followed, there have been only two wins - both on the road, and both in the midlands at Wolves and Birmingham.

Their home form was awful. They won only one of their 11 home games under Joyce, and in eight of those matches, failed to score.

Joyce has pointed to their slender losses and frequent draws as offering hope they could improve enough to avoid the relegation trapdoor.

But their form has shown few signs of improving, and even the most reasonable of fans have been increasingly critical of their faltering performances.

The same reasons for losses were repeated, the same excuses offered. The poor form of those around them, at least, kept them in the hunt but Saturday’s miserable loss – a six-pointer if ever there was one – saw their hopes of survival fade.

There were loud boos at the full-time whistle.

When asked - minutes later - if he was considering throwing in the towel, Joyce said it was “a silly question”.

He intended to battle on.

Sharpe, though, has decided the scrap for survival won’t involve Warren Joyce.