MALKY Mackay admits the warm welcome he received from Wigan Athletic’s supporters before his first game in charge ‘will live with me for ever’.
After all the controversy following his appointment last week, Mackay got his reign as Latics chief off to a reasonable start with a 1-1 draw against high-flying Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Both Mackay and chairman Dave Whelan – who has come under-fire in recent days for alleged racist comments that are currently under investigation by the FA – were given rousing receptions as they appeared before the game.
And Mackay believes that unity will play a big part in the club moving forward from these stormy waters.
“My dad, my father-in-law and my son were here and, no matter what happens in my career, I will remember the reception on my first day here for ever,” Mackay told the Evening Post.
“There was a real sense of unity at kick-off, and that’s something you have to have at your football club.
“You’ve got to park your ego at the door and want to work together.
“As long as people want to do that – and that goes for me, my staff, the players, everybody at the club – then I will love working with them and good things will happen.
“It was great to get to the ground in the morning. The reception from the fans waiting for me, to all the staff here was very warm.
“It’s what Jonathan (Jackson, chief executive) had spoken to me about - it’s a small, compact group here but they care passionately about their club.
“I’m delighted to be back in a job, my sleeves are rolled up and I’m back in the trenches of the Championship at a good club with good people.”
In his post-match press conference, Mackay refused to answer any non-football related questions - including his thoughts on Whelan’s pre-match claim that he would step down as chairman if the FA were to find him guilty of making racist comments.
Addressing a packed press room, Mackay added: “I’ll talk about the game because you’ve had your pound of flesh from me on everything else.
“It’s a conversation you can have with someone else. You’ve had plenty from me over the last few days, you’ve had loads.
“I’ll talk all day long about football. If you’re here for different agendas, you’re wasting your time.
“Mr Whelan came into the dressing room before the game to say good luck to the boys and came in to see me.
“After the game, he came in to say he was very proud of them and came in to see me to tell me that as well.”
Whelan remains confident he will not be found guilty by the FA but, speaking to ITV News on Saturday morning, pledged: “Should they even suggest I’m guilty I would immediately resign.
“I’m absolutely anti-racist, always have been, always will be”. In a further development, the anti-racism body ‘Kick It Out’ last night offered an olive branch to Whelan to help him ‘come to terms with modern expectations’ of behaviour.
Chairman Lord Ouseley told the BBC: “You cannot castigate Dave Whelan because of his age.
“We must recognise as a diverse society that we have people of all backgrounds, ages and characteristics.
“Age is no excuse. But people say things that are of a different age. The problem is that we have to help people come to terms with modern expectations we have of the way people should conduct themselves.”