THE end had to come sooner or later for Malky Mackay.
It’s just that most people thought Mackay should have gone sooner and others probably a few weeks later.
After the Wigan Athletic under his stewardship managed one of the more pitiful sequences of results in Football League recent history, a club with a recent taste of FA Cup Glory and eight seasons in the Premier League couldn’t stand for it forever.
One can speculate at length why he lasted as long as he did and come up with a range of suggestions which may or may not get to the heart of the matter.
One is that after the sacking of Uwe Rosler for a similar poor run of form, it was all on the appointers to prove that their next choice could turn the club’s fortunes would be the right one.
And, let’s face it revolving door policies can sometimes prove more damaging to a club than sticking doggedly with someone despite a bad start. Alex Ferguson at Manchester United is the most famous case in point there.
There was also the practicality of having to restructure the team almost from scratch after the drip-drip departure of virtually all its top flight names. The controversy surrounding Dave Whelan and the FA investigation into his racial remarks perhaps also gave Mackay a stay of execution. People in glass houses and all that...And it was Whelan who stuck his neck out to take him on in the first place, despite an inquiry into Mackay’s own conduct.
Linked to this is the handing over of power from Whelan to David Sharpe which was a further distraction from on-pitch activities.
And then there was the occasional win which falsely re-stoked optimism that a team tipped for promotion back to the Premier League wasn’t about to fall through a second trapdoor.
Monday’s defeat at Derby though felt like the slim chances of survival had now slipped away. There was a palpable mood swing among sections of the long-suffering fans and perhaps that swayed the decision to remove the luckless manager.
Some people have said to me since: “why didn’t they hold onto Mackay until the end of the season now that Wigan are virtually down and out? It’s no fun coming in at this point.”
But I can see the reasoning here. With relegation now a near certainty, there was no chance of Mackay’s still being in charge after the summer break, so why shilly-shally further?
Get someone in the dug-out for the duration now who can get fully conversant with managing the team in proper league fixtures which are at the same time likely to be unpressurised dead rubbers.
Should new manager Gary Caldwell pull off the miracle of survival by the Latics’ winning all its remaining games (even that might well not be enough to save them), then that’s a huge bonus. Otherwise, they go down as planned, Caldwell has off-pitch match experience under his belt and the whole summer to work with the squad so they can launch a campaign for promotion on the first day of the League One season.
The last thing Wigan needed was a new man announced mid-August and then the team loses and draws its first half dozen games because it is still getting used to a new regime.
The very best of luck to the untried and untested Caldwell who, footballing brains tell me, will need to be a far more accomplished strategist and motivator than his predecessor.