‘Manchester City is a big challenge,’ says departing Wigan Warriors guru Mark Bitcon

Mark Bitcon flanked by Kris Radlinski and Tony Clubb after the Grand Final win
Mark Bitcon flanked by Kris Radlinski and Tony Clubb after the Grand Final win

Mark Bitcon says it is a “dream” to be working alongside his brother at Manchester City – though he is sad to leave Wigan.

Warriors’ highly–regarded Director of Performance bowed out alongside Shaun Wane after the Grand Final triumph earlier this month.

Bitcon sharing a beer with Sean O'Loughlin and John Bateman

Bitcon sharing a beer with Sean O'Loughlin and John Bateman

Bitcon, who joined his hometown club from rugby union in late 2009, has taken up a role as Head of Performance Services at Man City, where his younger brother is a part of Pep Guardiola’s staff.

Although Bitcon, 40, will oversee the academy set-up – rather than the first-team – there will be some cross-over with Simon, who is four years younger and another St John Fisher old-boy.

“It’s a bit of a dream to be working with my brother,” said Bitcon.

“I started a long time ago and he followed me into this line of work, he got his first opportunity under Mark Hughes at Blackburn and followed him to City.

Bitcon worked with athlete Jenny Meadows

Bitcon worked with athlete Jenny Meadows

“It’s good to have someone you trust in the business to bounce ideas off.

“The academy has players from age eight to 23, some at the start of the journey and others one step from the first-team, either at City or elsewhere.

“It’s a big challenge for me but one I’m looking forward to, especially working in youth football, where you can really have an input and make a difference on a player’s mind-set and physicality.”

Players and coaches have lavished praise on Bitcon’s impact over the years, working alongside both Michael Maguire and Wane. He has also worked with ex-athlete Jenny Meadows and boxer Martin Murray.

“It’s nice to finish with a Grand Final, I’ve been a part of great times and winning the World Club Challenge (in 2017) was almost the complete set as support staff,” he said.

“The World Club felt like a natural finish, I won’t lie, as soon as that box was ticked I did start to look at other opportunities.

“It had to be a big opportunity to leave this club and so many friends – but Man City is a big opportunity.

“I’ll be putting all my efforts into the academy and doing the best job possible.”

Wigan have not named a direct replacement for Bitcon, who expects Wane to make a huge impact in his new role with Scotland RU.

“I’ve been involved in that set-up in Scotland and some of the great staff I worked with are still there,” he added.

“And what Waney has got in his skill-set as a leader and a coach, they will love.”