Shaun Maloney Appointed Manager of Wigan Athletic
Shaun Maloney was an FA Cup winning hero for Wigan Athletic a decade ago – now he is back as the boss and charged with the mission of keeping the club in the English Championship.
The 40-year-old Football Careers client has signed a contract designed to keep him at the Latics, where the fans revere him, until 2026. And the former Celtic and Scotland star is determined to repay the faith in him at a club that holds a huge place in his heart.
Back in 2013, under his coaching mentor Roberto Martinez, Maloney was part of the side that rocked Manchester City in the Final to win the FA Cup in a season of highs and lows that also saw them relegated from the English Premiership.
Shaun — a scorer and Man of the Match in the semi-final win over Millwall that took them to Wembley — stressed:
“I’m very proud to be back. I have amazing memories here and created some fabulous moments with teams and with fans, and I’m excited to get started. The feeling that I have from those times as a player is a big factor for me. I have been here previously and have always felt a great warmth from the supporters.
“I want the fans to see a team that is giving absolutely everything, fighting to get better and the supporters need to feel that. The connection is there, we just need to reawaken it.”
Maloney succeeds former Celtic and Leicester City assistant coach Kolo Toure who was sacked after just 58 days in charge at Wigan. Shaun himself knows the brutal world of football management now having been given just four months and 19 games in charge of Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership in his first big job as a boss.
The 47-times capped Scotland star has a superb pedigree as an emerging coaching talent, having worked alongside Martinez as they steered Belgium in their rise to become the no1 ranked team in the world.
Now he has elected to test himself with the daunting task of keeping Wigan up, an adventure that begins away to promotion-chasing Blackburn Rovers on Monday night. And he said:
“We needed that support from our fans 10 years ago, and they were incredible for the team that I played in, and we’re going to need that again.
“It’s a really big challenge but I believe that we can turn this around. A massive amount of work needs to be done but I can’t wait to get started.”
Shaun spent his playing career using his soaring football IQ to plot clever ways to outfox bigger, stronger rivals. Now as the new Wigan manager, he has to prove he can translate that carefully nurtured game intelligence into his coaching career when the chips are down.
Maloney the player saw his creative talents take him to the English Premiership and that FA Cup winners medal with Wigan. In Scotland, he is best remembered for season 2005/6 at Celtic under the guidance of Gordon Strachan when he shone so brightly for the Hoops.
Maloney’s numbers that year, operating in a slot created for him on the left of midfield, showed his threat and impact as he amassed 16 goals and 28 assists. He was named SPFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year in the same season: the first time that had ever happened.
Maloney the player always marched to the beat of a different drum. Measured, educated and insightful he was a pleasure to interview and would never bat away what he considered valid questions with stock answers.
It was fascinating to see him choose to work with a kindred spirit in Roberto Martinez in the Belgium set-up and he confessed:
“I will be forever grateful to Roberto for my three years in the Belgium job. I worked extremely hard, dedicating my life to the Belgian team.
“There were some very high pressurised moments and all of these experiences make you feel like you understand how to deal with them and you learn from how other people deal with them.”
As a Celtic player, Maloney was carefully nurtured towards the first team with the late great Tommy Burns playing a crucial role in his development. When he left the club to join his former Hoops manager Martin O’Neill at Aston Villa in 2007, Burns’ disappointment was tangible.
TB felt his protégé had gone too early and should have spent another two years honing his craft north of the border before – like Kenny Dalglish – leaving for England as a player nearer the finished article.
On reflection, as in many things football, Burns may well have been right. But one thing is for sure: Tommy’s influence will be carried into how Shaun guides Wigan’s players now.