This is something I never thought I would write.
On a chilly November morning Wigan Athletic parted company with long-term manager Leam Richardson.
After arriving at the club as Paul Cook’s trusted assistant manager he was one of many heroes during the dark times we suffered during administration and stood out as our only beacon of light in the season after relegation from the Championship. Many left us for dead, but Leam’s loyalty shone through.
His heroics earnt him the job on a permanent basis and after a hectic summer of recruitment and rebuilding he guided us to one of our most successful seasons ever. A League One title, our third in 6 years, ensured his name will stay in the Latics history books forever.
His impact on the pitch wasn’t even his most important of the season. In November of 2021 Wigan striker Charlie Wyke collapsed in training after suffering a cardiac arrest. The quick thinking and bravery of his manager saved his life, something that will never ever be forgotten by Charlie, his family and the footballing world at large.
It’s not often that a manager’s repour with his fanbase is such that they simply refer to him as ‘Leam’. But the bond between him and the supporters last season was as tight as I’ve seen between Latics fans and their gaffer, and his chant would begin almost like clockwork 2 minutes before the start of every game when he’d walk out on his own and applaud the Wigan fans in attendance.
Leam’s heroics were such that Phoenix 2021 Ltd honoured him by renaming the South Stand ‘The Leam Richardson Stand’ last summer. It is rare for a manager still in work at the club to be iconised like this, but Leam Richardson deserved it.
But football is a fickle old game isn’t it? One day you’re the cock of the walk, the next a feather duster. Leam Richardson has found that out the hard way unfortunately…
Let’s be honest, this season hasn’t been great. It started well whilst we were still riding the wave of positivity last season but things have taken a turn for the worst in the past month or so. 4 points from a possible 30 in our last 10 games make the sacking justifiable purely from a results standpoint, but for many people the credit he had in the bank hadn’t been used up yet.
Personally my head say this is the correct move. I appreciate the argument that he wasn’t backed well enough in the summer but the signings we did make aren’t even getting a look in, so who’s to say more signings would’ve been the answer?
His team selections also seemed to have a hint of favouritism about them, furthering my point that new signings may not have been the solution. Leam trusted the men that got him out of League One which is fine to a point, but I feel like its ultimately cost him his job.
I had been in favour of him right up until the Coventry game, but after Tuesday night’s performance I regrettably felt that his time was up. The football was just awful to be honest, as it has been for weeks now, and you could just tell things needed freshening up.
Many thought the freshening up should come in the January window but for me that would’ve been too late. The World Cup break has offered us the perfect opportunity to restart and allow our new manager to implement his own style onto this team, before having a transfer window to bring in his own players.
It hurts to write and I feel awful that its happened despite believing its the right choice. When the news came out I felt as guilty as sin because I’d called for this to happen, but like I’ve said my head tells me this is the right call.
It hurts. It really, really hurts. But you don’t win football games by being a nice guy. If you did, we’d be champions of the world with Leam in charge.
I’d like to end this article with a thank you to Leam Richardson. Thank you for everything. You are and always will be a Wigan Athletic legend. Here’s to you.
I’ll be bringing you more articles about Latics, our search for a manager and more reaction to this news over the next week. Thanks for reading.