Do I not like that . . . Don't blame the coach: Alex Murphy, the much-travelled rugby league coach, believes Wigan's chairman was at fault in a sorry affair

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The Independent Online
I WASN'T exactly surprised last week to hear that John Dorahy had been sacked as Wigan coach, because I was one of the few people in rugby league who predicted that he would have problems with man-management at the club.

But a large part of the blame, I believe, lies not with him, but with the man who appointed him and then failed to back him. The Wigan chairman, Jack Robinson, must therefore bear much of the responsibility, and, since he has changed his mind so swiftly, questions must be asked about his judgement.

In terms of his record this season, there is no doubt that Dorahy did a very good job. But an inexperienced chairman made the mistake of appointing a coach who might have performed well at the interview but who couldn't handle the players.

The problems will not end with the departure of Dorahy. Robinson has let a situation develop where it is impossible to tell just who is running the Wigan club. It looks very much as though the players have been deciding who will do what, to the extent of withholding their signatures to new contracts until their coach was sacked. I don't think some of the senior players should be proud of their part in this and it cannot be the right way for the biggest club in the British game to behave. Would they stand for it at Manchester United? Would it be tolerated in Australia?

If player power has come to this, then it is not just Wigan - who are in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons at a time when they should be basking in the achievement of winning the double for the fifth successive season - who suffer. It makes the whole game look amateurish and shambolic.

I am not saying that John Dorahy got everything right on or off the pitch. Some of his responses to criticism from the fans were an insult to supporters who have been brought up on nothing but the best at Central Park. Live television was not the place for him to tell his detractors what he thought of them.

But we all make mistakes and a coach deserves some backing from the man who appointed him. I know that after this episode I wouldn't want Jack Robinson alongside me going into battle.

The problems are not unique to Wigan. There are people throughout the game who inherit roles through which they suddenly become all-powerful within a club, responsible for all the hiring and firing. Not all of them are up to making such big decisions.

As far as being chairman of such a big club is concerned, Robinson is an apprentice - but he is making decisions that affect people's lives. I'm certain that Wigan would never have got into this situation had they still had Maurice Lindsay, who is now chief executive of the Rugby League, in charge.

What clubs need is a qualified executive in charge of all football matters, not a local businessman trying to run the show. That only leads to this kind of situation, where a man is sacked because his directors have had a rough ride at the shareholders' meeting or because the players have decided they want him out.

I know what it feels like to get the sack. I was dismissed as Wigan coach and am, temporarily I hope, out of work after being relieved of duties at Huddersfield. But I feel sorry now for the next man Wigan appoint. Whether it is Brian Smith from St George or Saddam Hussein, he'll need a bullet-proof vest. The players have tasted blood, and they might want more.

Meanwhile, Robinson should take a long look in the mirror and ask himself whether he should be carrying on. The whole affair has been handled so badly that it will take more than a change of coach to give Wigan, and the game as a whole, their credibility back.

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