Rugby League: The last post for Monie's magic

Dave Hadfield reveals why Wigan fired their greatest coach

VIEWED FROM a distance, Wigan's sacking of John Monie last week is one of the most shocking in sport. It is akin to Manchester United marching Alex Ferguson out of Old Trafford or Australia telling the Waugh twins they will not be required for the World Cup final.

Five championships and four Challenge Cups in five complete seasons in charge is an unrivalled record - and yet the writing has been on the wall for most of this year. When Monie returned to Wigan in 1998 it was as a man synonymous with success. A one-season contract was extended to two, but when he hinted that he could be persuaded to stay for another, the answer was silence broken only by the muffled sound of feet being dragged.

The reasons are complex. There is the question of a successor waiting in the wings in the form of Andy Goodway, the official explanation advanced by the club's chairman, Peter Norbury. But there are other factors at play. With a thin squad to work with this year, Monie's touch has looked less sure. His overseas players have not contributed enough to satisfy fans who remember Brett Kenny and Gene Miles. Gates have tailed off alarmingly and crucial games have already been lost.

When that has happened, Monie has seemed too calm and philosophical for some. Of the 13-8 defeat by Leeds nine days ago, which proved the last straw, he said: "If that was my last game, it was the type of game I'm quite happy to go out with."

Far less happy were directors who see Leeds overtaking Wigan at every level - their Academy and Alliance teams have also inflicted recent defeats - and the whole operation beginning to slide. What the directors do not take on board is that clubs like Leeds and Bradford are far better administered than Wigan, who do not have a chief executive or any marketing operation to speak of. The whole place sometimes seems in a state of suspended animation awaiting the move to the JJB Stadium at the end of the summer.

Short of really knocking the club into shape, when the board feel the need to do something they sack the coach. It was an outcome almost inevitable since the defeat by Castleford when Monie found Norbury berating the players in his - and their - inner sanctum of the home dressing-room. A stand- up row meant that the following weeks were less about Monie's mythical new contract than about terminating the existing one.

Monie has had the experience before, getting the bullet from the Auckland Warriors after a turbulent time that makes the last few months at Central Park seem sweetness and light. Even so, at 53 and with much else in his life, he still wants to coach. "I've always been a tracksuit and T-shirt guy," he said. "It's the day-to-day contact with the players that I enjoy. I'm not an administrator, but what I can do is prepare players to win big matches." For Wigan, the really big matches of this season are still to come, starting at St Helens today, but Monie will not be there. For him, the future is far from clear.

There are some at Super League who would see him as the potential saviour of the London Broncos, but the club are not interested. With his stock in Australia - thanks to the Auckland episode - as high as it is here, the Leeds game could have been his last at top level. He might look back on it contentedly enough, but at Wigan they will remember him not as a rational, gracious loser, but as the biggest winner they ever had in charge of their team.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial