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The Road To Wigan Pier – John Sheridan exits the League of Ireland

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I wish John Sheridan well as he departs the SSE Airtricity League for League One in England. His 65 days in charge of Waterford have been eventful, to say the least. In football though, results count more than events and Sheridan leaves with The Blues third in the table after a magnificent away win over Bohemians at Dalymount Park last Friday.

Many will only remember the episode of the alleged comments about the league here being a ‘pub league’. It’s immaterial to me whether Sheridan said this or not; in telling tales in the way he did Vinny Perth betrayed the unwritten code of the touchline. You think Klopp or Guardiola don’t ever say anything unpleasant in their technical areas? Dream on.

Sheridan has been in trouble before for touchline antics. The beautiful game has its not-so-beautiful moments. Managers are there to win games, otherwise their jobs are on the line. Sheridan has been hired and fired more than most mangers, but he has something about him as a coach just like he had something about him as a player. Sure, he can be temperamental. But he can also be talismanic.

Look at Sheridan’s relationship with Oldham Athletic. If you count spells as co-caretaker and caretaker, then Sheridan has been in charge of The Latics five times. I think only Martin Allen at Barnet could rival that. Sheridan has also had a couple of stints at Chesterfield. Clubs often go back to drink from the same well. If a manager knows a club and can have an impact, why not bring him back, even for a short spell?

Wigan are a club in crisis. Relegated from the Championship and in financial turmoil, their participation in this season’s League One was only confirmed last week. Sheridan will be a good fit for them in the short term, in that he can help the players focus on matters on the field rather than issues off it. He’s seen it all before.

I went for an Orwell reference for the title here. Orwell’s book ‘’The Road To Wigan Pier’’ was published in 1937 and recounted the author’s experiences living in poverty in Wigan, Barnsley and Sheffield as a way of documenting the social conditions of pre World War Two Britain. Orwell never got to see Wigan Pier – it was demolished in the 1920’s – and Sheridan may not survive at the DW Stadium long enough to see the good times return, but that’s not the point; he’s there to help manage them in the mess they’re in now.

The spat with Perth will be water off a duck’s back to Sheridan. He’s made of sterner stuff. Staying with Orwell though, it must have felt very Big Brother and 1984 hearing his ‘pub league’ comments reach the media. That is, if he actually said them!

Brian Quigley

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