Kolo Touré – Welcome to Wigan Athletic

Kolo Touré is (finally!) the new Wigan Athletic manager. Yes, you read that correctly! I haven’t simulated 10 years into the future on Football Manager, this is real life.

The Ivory Coast legend has been chosen by Talal Al-Hamad and the rest of the Latics board to replace Leam Richardson in a move that will certainly grab the headlines and make us the topic of conversation for a long time to come. We may well be renamed ‘Kolo Touré’s Wigan Athletic’ by several media outlets!

Touré arrives from Leicester after Latics agreed a compensation package with the Foxes and will be tasked with steering us to safety after the World Cup break is over and done with. He’s worked as part of Brendan Rodgers’ backroom staff since 2017 and is now ready to take on the top job and lead a team himself. It feels like a risk, but it could be a master stroke.

What will he bring to the club?

In all honesty I don’t really know. Given the fact he’s never managed a game himself we can’t really draw on anything from a tactical/stylistic point of view but my assumption is he’ll look to implement modern ideas. When you consider some of the managers he’s worked for, both as a player and a coach, that seems like a fair bet.

Having been brought to England by legendary Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger he went on to play for Manchester City and Liverpool. Wenger, Roberto Mancini at City and Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool all set their teams up to be expansive and entertaining and given the criteria we were reportedly looking for in a new manager that’s what I’m expecting at Latics.

One thing that can’t be underestimated is the winning mentality he brings. He’s been a part of two different invincible sides in two different countries which is quite the feat and his trophy haul is something special. He’s clearly someone that doesn’t settle for anything less than success which is the kind of mentality we’ll need to get us out of the relegation zone.

He’s also often been described as being ‘the nicest man in football’ which I assume is a title he shares with Leam Richardson! In terms of ensuring continuity of the good parts of Leam’s work this season I think appointing a similarly good guy will be well received by the players, more so than if we appointed a more ruthless candidate.

A slight concern I have is his total lack of Championship experience. Its a very different challenge dealing with Championship/League One players after having spent the last 20 years surrounded by elite talent and that transition is something he might find difficult. What sometimes happens in this kind of situation is the manager gets frustrated that their players can’t do the things they can, and I fear that could happen here.

Its also a risk giving someone their first managerial job in a Championship relegation battle. Considering we were interested in appointing his brother Yaya, arguably a more household name than Kolo, the cynic in me wonders if this appointment is a mixture of merit and marketing. By having a big name in charge we’re likely to receive more coverage, more interest and thus more money.

His coaching career so far…

His official title at Leicester City was ‘first team coach’ but its well documented that Touré spent a lot of his time working with the defensive unit. To say the Foxes have been consistently solid would be false though unfortunately and their players/coaching staff have all come under heavy criticism for some of their recent performances.

Last season they really struggled to defend set-pieces, an area that Touré was tasked with improving according to local journalists. Things have improved for Leicester in this regard but that does coincide with the arrival of a new coach so we can’t be sure how important Touré was in changing things.

He definitely will have played a part though and is very highly rated by Brendan Rodgers. The Ivorian has worked under Rodgers since 2017 and this wealth of experience separates him from other coach/managers, he’s not rushed into management. He’s honed his craft, bided his time and is now ready to take the top job at a club for the first time.

He’s been ready for several years but has held back on things. He completed his Pro Licence at the same time as Frank Lampard who entered the management game 4 years ago whereas Kolo has put the hours in coaching and developed his people management skills, his coaching abilities and also his knowledge of the English language which was always good but is now pretty flawless.

Touré has brought in two highly rated coaches to support him in his role, former England youth coach and Crawley manager Kevin Betsy alongside Ashvir Johal who coached with Touré at Leicester. Rob Kelly remains at the club as assistant manager but James Beattie, rather surprisingly in my opinion, has not been kept on.

Its difficult to suggest a tactical style for him but my guess is a 4 at the back. That’s what Celtic and Leicester used for most of his time there and given that all the managerial influences Touré has had in his career favour a back 4 I assume he’ll follow suit. He’ll also more than likely look to get us playing more easy on the eye football which means he’ll definitely have to delve into the transfer market in January.

He’s obviously got good links with Leicester and also at Tottenham where his brother Yaya is working. You’d like to think he could pick up the phone to Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool (where his old manager Jurgen Klopp still works) and secure the services of a few loan players. Hopefully his reputation as a good coach will serve him well in being able to secure top young talent.

To a lesser extent the simple fact that he is Kolo Touré might help too. He’s an iconic figure, particularly for young footballers of African descent as he was one of their first world class players the Premier League. I joked earlier that we’ll be renamed ‘Kolo Touré’s Wigan Athletic’ but that could help play into our hands at times.

Final Thoughts

Its one hell of a risk! I’m more happy with Kolo Touré than I would’ve been with a lot of people that were reportedly linked but I’d also suggest there were a couple of more ‘sensible’ options. Touré is a sensible appointment and certainly an exciting one but given the fees involved to get him from Leicester it just feels like we’ve gone more out there than we needed to.

That being said I’m 100% behind the move and am extremely excited to see how things go under the Ivorian. He’s not just getting the job because he’s a big name (although I stand by the fact that has played a part), he does have a genuinely impressive coaching reputation with glowing references from some of English football’s best.

When we sacked Leam Richardson I knew it would take something special to replace him. There were some more experienced names I had in mind, I covered a few of them in my recent article, and I certainly never had Kolo Touré in mind! However, he’s the man with the job now and everyone should be excited.

It’s the managerial equivalent of signing an 18 year old wonderkid and chucking him straight in the first team – he’ll either grow with you and it’ll be a match made in heaven or the step up will be too much and the whole thing will crash and burn. Strap in, it’ll be quite the journey!

” Kolo, Kolo Kolo, Kolo Kolo, Kolo Kolo Toure!”

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