Wigan Athletic: Talking Football - Thanks for everything, Leam

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Just one normal day covering Wigan Athletic Football Club.

Shouldn't be too much to ask for...should it?

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Breaking: Leam Richardson parts company with Wigan Athletic

Even by Latics standards, Thursday morning was positively bonkers.

Leam Richardson celebrates winning the League One title last termLeam Richardson celebrates winning the League One title last term
Leam Richardson celebrates winning the League One title last term

Just as I was getting settled watching the cricket...sorry, working from home, putting the finishes touches to this week’s Wigan Post.

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Yes, after a return of only four points from the last 30 available, there had been calls of 'Leam out' on social media - that well-known barometer of rational thinking.

But it was only last month the side was flirting with the play-off picture, after a staggeringly successful start to the season.

Leam Richardson was even being touted for bigger jobs...Stoke and West Brom, just a couple that saw him near the top of the betting market.

Indeed, it's only a fortnight since the club confirmed he'd signed a new three-year deal, presumably to ward off unwanted interest in him from afar.

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A club that, earlier this year, even named a stand after him, due to his remarkable contribution on and off the field during the most eventful period in the club's history.

When he somehow guided the side to League One safety - after being in administration for most of the campaign - with the smallest budget in the division.

A squad of players he’d largely begged, stolen and borrowed from other clubs, to compliment the untried teenagers in the Academy.

A Great Escape he followed by immediately delivering promotion to the Championship, with a completely new playing squad.

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Yes, with one of the biggest budgets in the division - a constant source of ire from opposition bosses.

But how many managers have had that luxury and not won the title?

In their first full season as a manager.

Righting the wrong of relegation from the Championship post-administration, the injustice of which was felt all around the town, not just the club.

Consolidating back in the second tier was never going to be straight-forward.

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Indeed, Richardson spoke on the pitch at Shrewsbury on the final day of last term - with medal still round his neck - of the need to use the summer transfer window wisely to keep things moving forward.

For whatever reason, Latics entered this campaign with largely the same squad.

The five additions - three season-long loans, a one-year deal and Anthony Scully from Lincoln - hinted at cloth being cut more accordingly than many fans would have hoped.

Which is not a criticism of the ownership - far from it.

The situation that saw Latics dumped into administration in July 2020 was caused by reckless ownership playing Russian roulette with the club's future, gambling on a boom-or-bust approach that, as we all know, almost cost the town its football club.

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We are already indebted to Phoenix 2021 Limited for saving the club once.

If they want to run it in a way that ensures we're never heading down that road again, then fair play.

But let's acknowledge these restrictions Richardson was working with.

His team and squad selection this season suggest some of the summer signings were not his call - or at least they weren't his first choices.

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And he was within his rights to stay loyal to the players who served him so well last term.

In the end, in some cases, perhaps a tad too loyal.

But loyalty is never a bad thing, and he walks away with his head very much held as high as any departing manager in recent history.

And he'll never, ever have to buy a drink in this parish again - and rightly so.

By the very nature of football, partings of company never end well.

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But whatever the future holds, the outgoing gaffer would do well to remember one thing, as gratitude for the part he played in helping to save the club in its darkest hour…

With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel..."Here's to you, Leam Richardson...Wigan loves you more than you will know..."