Talking football: Bravest of decisions gives Wigan Athletic a fighting chance

The King is dead! Long live the King!
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All right, 'King' is probably pushing the boundaries of credibility in terms of Kolo Toure's seven-week managerial tenure at Wigan Athletic.

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But if Shaun Maloney can manage to steer the good ship Latics away from the Championship drop zone, his status as genuine Latics royalty will have been set in stone.

Shaun Maloney has taken over the reins from Kolo ToureShaun Maloney has taken over the reins from Kolo Toure
Shaun Maloney has taken over the reins from Kolo Toure
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Only at this club could we - at the end of January - have had more managers than home wins this season.

With Luton Town having won as many games (two) at our own stadium as our own team.

Just eight months since that beautiful, sunny day at Shrewsbury...with Rick Parry fittingly present to see Latics go a long way towards exorcising the demons of Stanley Choi and administration…

How on earth did we get here?

At least Maloney has been here before.

He owns the t-shirt, and has an FA Cup-winners' medal - as well as memories of a painful relegation to show for it.

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The agony and the may as well be the club's motto.

With the likes of Paul Jewell, Roberto Martinez, Gary Caldwell and Paul Cook to inspire him, hopefully he can become the latest Latic to make the step up from successful player to successful manager.

And with Graham Barrow alongside him, that bond with the club and the fans can only be strengthened.

Yes, there will be question marks in some quarters over his appointment.

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While we're here, let's address some other burning questions.

Should Leam Richardson have been sacked? In my view, no.

Do I understand the view held by plenty of others that supported him being sacked? Yes.

The club was on a downward spiral, and the football being played was right out of the bottom drawer.

But was that Richardson's fault?

Or was he a manager left to make do and mend without the anticipated - and required - recruitment drive last summer, in damage limitation mode, with a squad suffering with injuries?

We digress.

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Would Kolo Toure have been my - or most people's - obvious choice as his successor? No.

Was I prepared to get behind him in the hope he could give Latics the kind of lift another managerial rookie, Michael Carrick, has clearly given Middlesbrough? Yes.

Sadly, Toure soon discovered why Richardson was perhaps reluctant to 'take the shackles off' and play open, expansive football.

Inside five matches his pledge to introduce 'modern football' had been massively tweaked.

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But - on the back of three 4-1 defeats on the spin - the writing was perhaps already on the wall.

Was the carnage that unfolded on his watch all Toure's fault? No.

He inherited a squad on a downward spiral, and was unable to stem the bleeding.

But were there any visible signs - or any tangible hope - the Arsenal 'Invincible' could turn things around? No.

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So was the board right to cut their not inconsiderable losses, with plenty of time left to salvage the season, and relieve him of his duties?

That very much remains to be seen.

In my view - for what it's worth - yes, absolutely.

Toure was the 12th manager I've worked alongside during my 15 years in this job.

Some left of their own accord.

Those who didn't - perhaps Richardson aside - all had one thing in common.

Owen Coyle, Uwe Rosler, Malky Mackay, Warren Joyce and now Toure had all reached 'the point of no return'.

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The levels of dissent among the matchgoing fans in the stadium had gone well over the tipping point.

Realistically, it was never going to be something that could be won back – certainly not in time to aid a survival bid this season.

Not that Martinez and Cook didn't have their own voices of discontent at times.

They had plenty of credit in the bank, though.

Toure, clearly, did not.

Obviously the decision to pot him with so little time remaining of the transfer window - having added three players, who've made promising starts - will raise eyebrows.

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But was he the man to get the best out of the rest of the group?

There wasn't much evidence, to date, to make a case for that.

One thing's for sure...the decision made by Talal Al Hammad on Thursday night was far from the easy way out.

It took bravery on a monumental scale to admit a mistake had been made.

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But it's a decision that gives Latics the greatest possible chance of pulling off their latest Great Escape - and must be applauded as such.

What would have happened had Maloney - who impressed hugely during the interview process last time - been given the job?

Who knows.

But the 'End of an Error' has been acknowledged, and this club lives to fight another day.

So what does the 'Shaun Identity' look like?

We're about to find out.

One thing's for sure...where Wigan Athletic are probably won't be dull.