Wigan's 'new exciting era' ends with Toure being sacked after 59 days

Ashvir Johal, Kolo Toure and Kevin Betsy

Ashvir Johal, Kolo Toure and Kevin Betsy

ON November 29th, Wigan Athletic unveiled Kolo Toure as their new manager, promising a “new, exciting era” for the club.

Just 59 days later he was sacked, along with assistants Kevin Betsy and Ashvir Johal, with the club having failed to win in nine games under his charge.

The appointment of the trio had been exciting, for both those inside the club and out. Toure, the Arsenal Invincible, was embarking on his first job in management, having previously worked as first-team coach under Brendan Rodgers at Celtic and Leicester.

Betsy had developed a strong reputation as a coach with England’s age group teams and Arsenal Under-23s, despite a brief and ill-fated spell as manager of Crawley Town at the start of the season.

And Johal had worked his way up from a part-time coach at Leicester to become their U18s assistant and was now taking his first job in senior football. The appointments were also significant because here were three coaches of colour taking the helm at a Championship club, which is unheard of, while Johal became the only Asian coach working in first-team football in England.

In their November statement, Wigan had expressed the wish that the trio would “hit the ground running.” This seemed something of a leap of faith, because here we had someone taking his first job as a manager and a couple of assistants with a background in development.

Surely what they needed above all else was time. And if the club weren't able to afford it, which is understandable in a relegation fight, then perhaps they had made the wrong appointments in the first place.

Toure’s 59 days as manager, taking in only nine games, means he has had one of the shortest reigns in English football history.

Chief Executive Malachy Brannigan, who had heralded the “exciting” appointment of the “man to take us forward” less than two months earlier, said “Unfortunately, the results on the field have not been as we would have liked and as tough a decision as this was, the Board felt it necessary to give us the best possible chance of remaining a Championship club next season.

“We know that this time of year is a key period for any football club, ourselves included. Therefore, we will now work swiftly and effectively to ensure the right person is appointed as the next permanent manager of Wigan Athletic, with the immediate objective of remaining in the second tier for next season.”

The existing coaching staff, led by assistant Rob Kelly, will take charge of the team until a permanent appointment is made.

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