Following in famous Wigan Athletic footsteps

Gregor Rioch admits working in his dad's old office at Christopher Park has been an 'eerie' experience as he tries to steady the ship at Wigan Athletic.
Gregor RiochGregor Rioch
Gregor Rioch

The 45-year-old - the son of former Latics, Bolton and Arsenal manager Bruce Rioch - has stepped up from Academy chief, following John Sheridan's departure and with Leam Richardson absent due to family reasons.

And he has a huge advantage over most rookie managers, given the wealth of experience at his disposal just a phone call away.

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"I was on the phone to him before Saturday's game (against Oxford), and we speak most days," Rioch junior revealed.

"And it has been a little bit eerie walking into his old office at Christopher Park!

"I've been around it from a very young age, and I've had nothing but encouragement from my dad.

"He's always been on at me to trust myself and the people around me.

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"And we have some outstanding staff at this football club, who work relentlessly to keep us going,

"It was an honour to stand in the technical area, and put a team out to fight for this football club."

It was a tough baptism of fire for Rioch, who was unable to prevent Latics extending their winless sequence to 11 matches with Oxford winning 2-1 at the DW.

Not that he's using the present situation as a job interview for the managerial vacancy, which won't be filled full-time until the club is taken over.

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"No, I'm an Academy manager, and I'm really settled and really enjoying what I do," he said.

"I've been in the process of developing young players for the last 14-15 years, and I absolutely love the job.

"Helping young lads go out there and make a career in the game, and becoming good people, is my forte.

"This has been a little bit different, I've been a little bit out of my comfort zone.

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"But I've enjoyed everything about it - apart from Saturday's result.

"The young lads have been a credit to the football club every step of the way.

"They're having to fly the flag a little bit earlier than what we might have expected on their journey.

"But we've always tried to bridge that gap between Under-23s football and the first team, and that's usually been through loans.

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"The lads in the side at the moment haven't done that, and they're learning on the job in very difficult circumstances.

"What we need to do is keep encouraging them, keep guiding them, keep helping them, and keep educating them.

"And if they keep putting in the performances they have of late, that will only stand them in good stead for the future."

Rioch readily admits the club is in desperate need for the off-field uncertainty to give way to some long-term stability.

"I think that's what we're waiting for," he acknowledged.

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We've been waiting for that since July, from the day we went into administration - that goes without saying.

"What we've tried to do inside the football club is minimise all the drama.

"Within the training ground, we make sure we're professional , we make sure we're organised, and that we're bubbly and bright.

"All we ask is that they give us as much as we're giving them, and we've had that back from them.

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"The results are obviously hurting us at the moment, but we're also seeing some very encouraging signs."

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