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Millwall v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Focus: Wigan fan Barry says that appointing new manager Kolo Toure was “a massive gamble”

Ahead of tonight’s game we spoke to Wigan fan Barry Worthington - Producer & Editor of the PWU Podcast & Blog - to catch up on how things are going under new boss Kolo Toure!

Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Matthew Crichton: After keeping the club up and going on to win promotion, Leam Richardson was sacked in November - how was this decision viewed among supporters?

Barry Worthington: Split 65/35 that it was the wrong decision according to two polls, one run by ourselves and the other by the local newspaper.

Leam Richardson was so much more than just the football manager, he was the figurehead of the club, the leader through the darkest period of our history, the man who saved us when everyone else was heading for the door. Of course, some fans will look at the results and consider nothing else and they were the loudest on social media.

Personally, I felt it was not only disappointing but showed a lack of loyalty from the club, after all that Lean Richardson had done he deserved this season at least.

MC: When we last spoke earlier this season, Wigan were 9th in the table after a positive start, what were the factors behind your decline in form?

BW: Lack of squad depth, with seven regular starters aged 30+ playing Saturday – Tuesday – Saturday, it just caught up with us, where early season we had been scoring late goals we started to concede late in games.

Without the depth in quality to rotate we were left short. We also suffered injuries to key players, both Lang and Wyke had spells out, Amos had been carrying an injury and we lost both Kerr and Whatmough our two centrebacks, Kerr is out for the season with an ACL injury.

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship
After scoring against Sunderland earlier this season, Charlie Wyke will miss the match through injury.
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

MC: The man who replaced Richardson is former Arsenal and Manchester City defender Kolo Toure - were you surprised not to see a more experienced figure appointed?

BW: Completely surprised, following the sacking of Richardson the fan base were looking to managers who had previously had some success in the Championship such as Critchley, McCarthy and Wilder, who were all interviewed but when Kolo Toure’s name emerged as the man who had been offered the job it was met with disbelief at first.

Researching his coaching record though and listening to what the board had said that had impressed them during the interview process, it was obvious that he has something about him, but still a massive gamble, one that we have to get behind as supporters.

MC: What are the key things you think Toure will have to change to keep Wigan up?

BW: Stop us losing games, you get that mentality and when you concede the heads go down, this needs to change and fast, we have been a team that battles through games, that is a quality that we need to keep.

During the interview process, the board were looking for a manager who would bring a ‘positive’ style of football to the club, we have seen in his three games so far that Toure is looking for us to play on the front foot, to create chances and get at opponents.

That has been a real positive change but at Boro on Boxing Day it left us a little exposed defensively and we got picked off.

Just a few tweaks needed there.

Leicester City v Southampton - Premier League
Kolo Toure was part of Brendan Rodgers coaching team at both Leicester and Celtic.
Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

MC: During the summer Wigan endured a very quiet transfer window, do you think your owner will make funds available to help Toure avoid relegation?

BW: Having spoken with Mal Brannigan, the CEO at the Latics, he confirmed that funds are available and that we are already having conversations about bringing in some additions to the squad.

MC: Against Middlesbrough, 19-year-old Charlie Hughes made his debut at centre-back, are you currently short in this area due to injuries?

BW: As mentioned earlier both Kerr and Whatmough are out, Kerr being long-term, we have Edmonds-Green on loan but as he wasn’t in the squad on Monday, so I assume he is also injured.

Charlie Hughes had an exceptional game, he stepped into the breach like a seasoned pro, he is a highly regarded member of our academy and Toure had no reservations about putting him straight into the starting line-up to make his Championship debut.

Middlesbrough v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship
19-year-old Charlie Hughes is set to make his second Wigan league start against Sunderland.
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

MC: Ex-Sunderland forward Nathan Broadhead has been in and out of the Wigan side this season, failing to complete 90 minutes, how would you summarise his season so far?

BW: Summarised very well in the question, in and out, I know he is well-liked by the Sunderland supporters and we have seen flashes of a very good player, but there have been games where he has been quite anonymous, maybe it is the way that we have been playing,

He was primarily used as an impact sub by Leam Richardson, but Kolo Toure has started Broadhead in all his games so far. Hopefully tonight he will have a stormer.

MC: We’ve spoken previously about your ex-Sunderland contingent - who are the Wigan players can Tony Mowbray’s team will have to keep an eye on tonight?

BW: Callum Lang is our most exciting forward player, missed a chunk of games with an ankle injury during the autumn but is back now and has been firing on all cylinders since his return after the World Cup.

Will Keane is our top scorer with 8 and is always likely to come from deep to grab a chance.

Wigan Athletic v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship
Nathan Broadhead has scored four goals for Wigan so far this season.
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

MC: How do you think Toure will approach the match tactically and which eleven players do you think he will select?

BW: Depending on the injury status of certain players but I think we will see a 4-2-3-1 with emphasis on getting at you, team selection will depend on injuries but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of changes from Boxing Day.

(4-2-3-1) Jones, Nyambe – Hughes/Whatmough – Tilt – McClean, Naylor – Power, Lang – Keane – Aasgaard, Broadhead.

MC: Sunderland have won their last four matches against Wigan, what is your prediction for the score this time around?

BW: My head tells me it will be a very difficult game and to predict cautiously, perhaps a 1-1.

My heart says we need the win and if we can turn our home form around we have a chance of getting out of trouble, so I am going for a 2:1 Latics win, a Broadhead double and of course, a Stewart penalty for you, which he will ‘win’ himself.


Signed, Seelt, Delivered by Dodds?


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