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
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week