I cannot remember a time when a departing Wigan Athletic manager has been subject to such a torrent of abuse on leaving the club. Owen Coyle’s name has been vilified from all corners of social and fan media. Few of those who supported him less than a week ago seem able or willing to stand up for him now.
So much as changed in such a short amount of time.
Coyle has been condemned for having poor team selection skills, not having a tactical plan, for playing people out of position and for the sagging of players’ energy levels during the 90 minutes.
But now Coyle has gone there are no more excuses for poor individual player performances. Now is the time for the players to step forward and show what they are capable of.
Players such as Ali Al-Habsi, Jean Beausejour, Roger Espinoza and Fraser Fyvie (still on loan at Yeovil), will surely have breathed a sigh of relief when hearing of Coyle’s departure.
The big goalkeeper is back in training now and when fully fit is sure to pose a big challenge to Scott Carson and Lee Nicholls between the posts. The two Latinos – Beausejour and Espinoza – clearly did not receive any favours from Coyle, but both have previously proven themselves to be players of Premier League quality. The classy young Fyvie was one to be nurtured for the future, rather than to be snubbed and sent off to another club.
It appears that Graham Barrow has been given temporary responsibility for the senior squad, although Sandy Stewart is still in the picture.
One of the main problems in the Coyle reign was the absence of an “identity” in terms of the way the team were to play their football.Barrow needs to stamp some kind of identity upon the team immediately, so that players know exactly what is expected of them.
Under Coyle it was too easy for players to opt out by making hopeful (or hopeless?) long passes. Now it is the time for the players show their skill and demonstrate to Leeds tomorrow night that they are a cut above their Yorkshire opposition.
It is a tall order for Barrow.
As first team coach he would surely have been involved in developing a style of play, but he might well have been overruled by Coyle or Stewart. Who knows whether his hands were tied or whether he too was part of the problem?
One thing is for sure. Not one of Latics’ players recruited by Martinez has performed at the level we expected when they dropped down a division.
Barrow knows those players and what they can do and his task will be to get them performing at their optimal level. He could do worse than have a core of Martinez players as the spine of the team, with the best of Coyle’s recruits joining them.
It is going to take some time before a new manager is appointed so Barrow needs to act fast and decisively. It is going to be interesting to see the style in which Latics play tomorrow night.
It looks like the excellent Scott Carson will come in for that fine prospect Lee Nicholls in goal. The remaining places are up for grabs.
Under Coyle Latics took one step forward and two steps back.
It is now time for this squad to reveal their true potential.