The 12th Man: Joyce reflections and Barrow buoyancy!

Graham Barrow
Graham Barrow

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!

Martin Tarbuck

Another new chapter begins for the Latics.

Following on from the dismissal of Warren Joyce we can finally break free of the shackles that he laid on us and – if we are going down – go down fighting.

The past five months have been awful, the soul has been sucked out of the club.

Now we can try and get that soul back, and as fans we must get behind the team and raise the roof against Villa.

We have had little to cheer about this season at the DW, flat games, no goals, little intent - it may not return immediately but we should at least see the full backs allowed to venture beyond the halfway line.

Graham Barrow has been handed the reins for the final nine games.

I fully understand and support the reasoning for this, no point diving in at the deep end once again and bringing in a rushed appointment.

We don’t even know which division we’ll be in come the new season so it is prudent to hang fire with any new appointment.

Barrow knows the club, knows the fans, he knows what we expect and that is a willingness to have a go, to fight and knock down anything and everything that is in our way as we try to achieve the aim of staying up.

No regrets.

Where we end up come May should not be down to a lack of trying over these next nine games.

As a club we never throw the towel in and accept the inevitable we fight to the end for our cause.

We have had some fantastic victories over the past 20 years especially with this attitude, playing our way, the Wigan Athletic way.

They said it couldn’t be done with the size of our club, but we won promotion to the Championship gaining 100 points in a fantastic campaign.

We then defied the odds and won promotion to the Premier League, yes the Premier League.

We won relegation battles, who can ever forget the final day victory at Sheffield United in 2007 and the West Ham game in 2011?

It was possibly the most dramatic game that I have ever witnessed.

They were won with sheer fight and determination. We actually won the FA Cup and competed in the Europa League. All this was done doing it our way, they Wigan Athletic way.

Let’s get back to doing it our way, we are Wigan Athletic, let’s get the soul back into this club.

Up the Tics!

Barry Worthington

We needed a guarantee and instead we went for the gamble - that line can probably sum up the decision to appoint Warren Joyce back in October.

Nearly five months later that gamble has backfired spectacularly and once again Wigan Athletic are staring relegation square in the face.

I liked Warren Joyce, although I thought the decision to sack Gary Caldwell when they did was harsh I could understand it.

I liked his no nonsense attitude and I liked the fact that he was a lower league workhouse of a player done good.

I thought his links to United were interesting if not necessarily relevant to the club’s plight at the time.

I thought he could get the best of those United lad’s already at the club who are numerous in number. Andy Kellett, Reece James, Nick Powell.

His record with United’s youth teams is second to none, for all of this I could see why Joyce may be attractive to clubs as a potential manager.

Sadly football doesn’t always work out like you hope.

Instead of the free-flowing, attacking if more direct football we were promised never came to fruition.

Those tactics may work away from home, indeed they have.

Wins at Huddersfield, Wolves and Birmingham show that but at home it’s been excruciating at best.

Unforgivable at worst.

There has been no significant improvement in our results since Warren Joyce arrived and our league position has got worse, were relegation was something we were expected avoid when he came in we’ll now be favourites to go down alongside Rotherham.

It’s simply been a disaster, but amazingly there is still time to turn things around.

There’s some symmetry in Graham Barrow taking over the reins at this moment in time.

If he can somehow keep Latics from an immediate return to League One that will eclipse the achievement of keeping Latics in the football league when he was manager last time out in the early 90s.

I think Graham getting the job until the end of the season is probably a wise move.

What would bringing in a short term appointment like Kenny Jackett or Alex McLeish achieve at this moment in time? A manager whose heart wouldn’t fully be in it, with little or no knowledge of our players and another bedding in period.

Graham Barrow has managed to cop a lot of flak in recent times.

Not many people know what he does but many people know that he’s to blame when it goes wrong.

Equally he never seems to get the credit when it goes right.

Or look at it another way. Owen Coyle, Malky Mackay and most recently Warren Joyce brought in their own staff.

Uwe Rosler and Gary Caldwell worked with what they had which was Graham Barrow.

I’m not saying Graham Barrow is the answer to all of our problems.

Not by any stretch, but the Chorley lad and Wigan legend is probably our best bet at the moment.

His interviews this week have all been positive, and importantly he knows that we simply need to attack sides to get the rewards.

He’s also a veteran of numerous relegation battles in the Premier League all of that counts in our situation.

If we go down fighting people will be a lot happier than simply surrendering our Championship status in a series of 0-0 draws and narrow defeats in the name of being solid.

Graham will know that indeed, he alluded to as much when he’s taken on press duties in recent weeks.

Graham Barrow knows these players and he knows what they’re capable of. If he can somehow get them to have confidence in themselves again we may yet be playing Championship football again next season.

We can do this, Latics.

Sean Livesey

Eventually, we’ll have a nice, relaxing straight-forward season. Maybe.

In true Wigan Athletic style, David Sharpe has endured a somewhat turbulent first couple of years at the helm of Wigan Athletic.

A relegation, a promotion and – let’s face it – another probable relegation unless performances turn completely on their head and Latics get three points out of some terribly tough fixtures.

Anyway, I’ve gone a good few paragraphs without even mentioning the topic of the week.

The sacking of Warren Joyce was a sad one.

Sad because it didn’t work out; sad because he was largely his own worse enemy; and for me, sad because I think some of the personal criticism aimed at him from the off was unjust and unfair.

I really liked Gary Caldwell and I disagreed with his sacking, or more so the timing of it.

But it seemed that from the word go Joyce was barely given space to breath.

His ‘adjustment period’ was unfairly criticised by quantities of the Latics faithful and by the time things did turn sour, the atmosphere amongst Wigan fans became somewhat toxic.

Whatever my opinions of Joyce’s treatment though, the football was getting worse and worse.

One of my main criticisms of Caldwell was that I felt the side was one-dimensional under him.

Opposition teams knew what to expect and how to exploit our frailties.

Under Joyce, this was also an issue but on a much greater scale.

To set up to play on the counter-attack to grind out a draw or – on the rare occasion – a win was needed at times.

But to do it every week?

We had little to no chance of survival.

The way he set his side up in some crucial games recently was criminal and ultimately led to his sad, but fair, dismissal.

I’ve heard much about getting back to the ‘Wigan way’ this week but I honestly have no idea what that’s meant to be.

I’m guessing it’s to do with playing a certain brand of football but given we have become the very definition of a yo-yo club it’s impossible to expect that will come hand in hand with results.

Echoing Graham Barrow’s comments this week, Wiganers have always loved a player or a manager who gives every waking hour to getting the job right. In him, we have that.

And I love Barrow. Unlike some of the other oldies who write on this page (sorry, lads!) I’m unfortunate enough to not remember him managing, let along playing.

But I know he is Wigan through and through. Just like Roberto Martinez. Just like Gary Caldwell.

For me though, we need a realistic approach next season when it comes to appointing our new manager.

We need somebody who understands whatever division we are in, who understands and accepts the expectations with the resources they are given.

If we start over-complicating things and start devising long term plans because they look or sound good when we are perhaps the most unstable club in the football league, we’ll continue to find ourselves in trouble.

The logo on our club crest is quite apt at the moment – ‘Progress With Unity’.

That applies on the pitch and off it too.

Greg Farrimond

The Chimp Paradox is a 2012 book by acclaimed sports psychiatrist, Professor Steve Peters.

Peters theorises that we all have an inner chimp that can be a bit of a pain in the backside – it’s the bit of the brain which runs on emotions and gut instinct, makes snap judgements and thinks in black and white.

What has all this got to do with Latics?

Well, it could be argued that The Chimp wasn’t controlled properly back in late October; Caldwell was sacked as a result of a snap judgement rather than some evidenced deeper rational thought.

Have Wigan Athletic controlled The Chimp a little better this time around?

You’d be hard pressed to find many Latics supporters who think that the sacking of Joyce is a snap judgement.

The club statement released on Monday announcing that Joyce had gone along with the recently-appointed Andy Welsh, also informed us that Graham Barrow had taken the reins till the summer.

We can then see where we are, and look to appoint a permanent replacement.

If as expected, we have been relegated, it will be interesting to see who we can attract.

Recent managerial appointments have seldom followed a philosophy, unless of course that philosophy has been to find “the complete polar opposite of the last fella”.

Despite winning the League One title last year, certain sections of our support were quick to denigrate the achievements of Caldwell, Barrow et al by stating as a matter of fact that “a chimpanzee could have won that league…”.

I like to think a little differently.

Rather than wait till the summer to begin the search, I thought I’d help the club by collating a shortlist of suitable candidates for the job…

Here are the top five candidates:

CLYDE

Clyde the orang-utan, star of ‘Every Which Way But Loose’ alongside little known actor Clinton Eastwood Jr. is the perfect candidate for the job.

Imagine him prowling the technical area, as assistant manager Graham Barrow shouts “Right Turn Clyde” from his spot on the bench just as their winger is flying down the touchline.

HAM (THE FIRST CHIMP IN SPACE)

It’d have to be ‘The Ghost Of’ as unfortunately Ham died in 1983.

His credentials however are as follows; he came through a rigorous selection process to become the Tim Peake of the Astrochimp world, therefore the relatively easy interview for the Wigan Athletic manager’s job should be easy as pie for Ham.

BUBBLES (MICHAEL JACKSON’S PET MONKEY)

Bubbles, one time pet of mega pop star Michael Jackson, has the main advantage of definitely still being alive.

He could be just what this team needs – a proper kick up the backside and a bit of fear of failure.

MR SHIFTER (PG TIPS AD)

Mr Shifter is one of the PG Tips chimps from the famous 1970s TV advert.

Despite it constantly being said that Latics are “a lot more solid” at the back, we still seem to keep losing a lot of games.

Never mind parking the bus, let’s get Mr Shifter to wheel the piano onto our goal line and use it to block half the goal.

PETER REID

He’s got a wealth of management experience although recently, that has included presiding over the recent relegation of that team up the road in Horwich (as their assistant manager).

Surely we’ve managed to control our inner Chimp by now and realise that it’s too many ex-Boltoners.

So there you have it… Sharpey and Jonathan Jackson, over to you...

Chris Marsh

The inevitable happened this week when Warren Joyce was dismissed as Latics manager.

The former Manchester United reserve manager had struggled to come to terms with the challenges of Championship football and his negative tactics had alienated the Latics fan base.

Some people outside Wigan might think it was a harsh decision to sack Joyce after only four months but the Latics fans had to endure some dreadful performances and the club was drifting towards relegation with him in charge.

Latics owner Dave Whelan and Chairman David Sharpe made the right decision to part company with Joyce and have sensibly appointed Graham Barrow as interim manager for the rest of the season.

The board must now think carefully before appointing a new manager.

In the meantime Graham Barrow has a massive task to keep It would be one of the greatest of great escapes if they were to stay up but it is not impossible.

Barrow must quickly establish a new positive mentality amongst the players and give them the freedom to get forward.

Under Joyce the players looked fearful and even the strikers seemed preoccupied with their defensive duties.

Barrow must set his team up to attack from the kick off. He must be prepared to select more players in attacking positions and encourage them to get into the penalty area.

Latics have lacked width under Joyce and he has often played wingers such as Gabriel Obertan in central positions. Barrow must correct this and ensure that they are attacking down both flanks.

They need crosses into the penalty area from wide areas and they need more midfield players to gamble to get on the score sheet.

The attitude of all the players has to be right – the defenders have shown great commitment - the rest of the players must now show a similar level of commitment if they are to stay up.

Barrow will know the players and the ones who are up for fight. He needs to select a team with the highest commitment but also with the creativity and attacking ability to get the victories.

The feeling of hopelessness, which pervaded under Joyce, has now gone.

It’s a tall order to survive but it is now up to the players to show that they deserve to be in the Championship.

Ian Aspinall

The reign of Warren Joyce has come to end but where do we go from here?

Joyce’s stint as manager was over before it really even started.

Four months in a job doesn’t seem like much time, but I’m sure to some Wigan fans it would have seen like a lifetime.

It was definitely a gamble when Joyce was placed as manager, and a gamble for the club which hasn’t paid off.

The facts don’t lie either, the inability to grind out results and also the inability to score goals was in the end the downfall for Joyce, who was clearly out of his depth.

It is one thing being a coach, but’s it’s a whole different ball game being a manager.

It’s now over to Graham Barrow until the end of the season. It seems as though Barrow has been here all his life, he knows the club inside and out.

So if there’s one man who can fire the players up then Barrow is that man.

We’ve got nothing to lose for the remaining nine games of the season.

It’s almost a carbon copy of two years ago when Gary Caldwell was brought in to try and get us out of the trouble.

In football, it’s the hope what kills you, which in the end makes you believe that we can pull off the great escape.

All I want to see for the remaining nine games is if, we’re going down to League One then we go down fighting.

Joe O’Neil