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.

sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing