The sacking of Kieron Cunningham arguably now makes Wigan’s task on Good Friday even more difficult. As well as trying to break a winless streak of four games, Wigan now have to prepare for a game in which they are likely to come up against the unexpected. Facing a side managed by Cunningham would probably have been easier to prepare for, Shaun Wane would be able to watch back tapes and prepare for certain traits in their game – which, if we are being frank, was an un-Saints style of conservative rugby.
In charge of Saints will be Sean Long, can Wigan take some solace from the fact that he was Cunningham’s assistant, as such – can we expect a similar style and brand of rugby? I doubt it – Long is anything but predictable and conservative. The man who was unceremoniously rejected at Wigan has a good history of turning Wigan v Saints games into a nightmare for Wigan fans – can he inspire a Saints side on Friday?
There is always two schools of thought when losing a manager, it can either galvanize a side to perform much better, in which the new coach or caretaker coach experiences a so-called honeymoon period a la Craig Shakespeare at Leicester City; Brian Noble at Wigan. Alternatively, the players can start feeling sorry for themselves and as such, the demise continues, see Rick Stone at Huddersfield.
It will be interesting to see whether the sacking of Cunningham does have an effect on the preparations for Wigan or whether they decide to focus more on improving their own game, Wane mentioned the need for improvement in defence and the end of sets – hopefully that will be the case come Friday.
What will it be on Friday? Well, if there was ever a game to get a response – it would be a Derby game and with Saints practically having their best 17 available to pick from, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a galvanise, attacking display from St Helens come Friday. All in all, it makes for a more intriguing game and one that Wigan will hopefully have some first teamers back for.