BBC Sport
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
| Help

Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 August, 2004, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Wigley in from the wings
By John May

Southampton Head Coach Steve Wigley makes his point
The fact that Steve Wigley was recently called 'Steve Wrigley' by his local newspaper tells one of two things.

It could mean that despite being at Southampton since July 2001, his role has so far failed to gain him recognition.

Or it might mean that by taking on the role of Head Coach, he has put himself in a sticky situation.

Certainly the last five months have seen a sea-change in Wigley, who takes over from Paul Sturrock.

Southampton turned to Wigley in March following Gordon Strachan's departure, shoving him blinking and rubbing his eyes into the Premiership spotlight.

He took charge for two games before gratefully melting back into his primary role as Director of Academy.

Fast forward five months and it's a new, confident Wigley that emerges, bang-up for the job of succeeding Sturrock.

Wigley, like Kevin Blackwell at Leeds, has been the archetypal Quiet Man, who has got on with his job efficiently and quietly.

Having made his bones over the years, he now feels he has earned the right to have a crack at one of the most demanding jobs in football.

Wigley made his name as a player with Forest
Wigley's playing career took off at Forest

As a player, Wigley was a tricky, pacy winger, who first burst on to the scene with Nottingham Forest, having been signed by Brian Clough from his home town team Curzon Ashton.

After making his debut as a 21-year-old, he made 69 league starts for Forest (plus 13 as sub) before joining Sheffield United in October 1985.

He then joined Birmingham where his 45-minute demolition of Portsmouth at St Andrews persuaded then-boss Alan Ball to take him to Fratton Park.

After four years at Pompey he wound down his playing career at Exeter (under Ball) before taking his first managerial plunge at Aldershot.

Wigley had three sound years at the cash-starved Shots before David Platt coaxed him back to Forest as assistant academy director.

He moved through the ranks to reserve team coach and then first team coach alongside Platt before Stuart Gray, in his brief reign as Saints boss, brought him to Southampton in the summer of 2001.

Wigley's role was to develop Saints' youngsters, and at the same time, Platt invited him to be part of the England Under-21 coaching set-up.

In the latter days of Strachan's reign, Wigley was seen more and more on the touchline at first-team games although he continued to remain in the wings as opposed to front of stage.

It was a quantum leap for Wigley when he was asked to take over in a caretaker's role when Strachan left, and he probably felt that he was not right for the job.

David Platt and Steve Wigley
David Platt and Steve Wigley have worked closely together

But as his coaching methods and ideas have won increasing acceptance and approval by the players, so his confidence has grown.

Amid the tales of player unrest at St Mary's, Wigley apparently had a role in selecting Saturday's team to play Blackburn.

When Southampton went 2-1 down, it was seen as the litnus test of whether Sturrock had the players on his side, or whether they would simply roll over and abandon him to his fate.

The spirit they showed in fighting back seemed to convince most people that they were ready to back and scrap for Sturrock.

But his departure 24 hours later suddenly presented a different scenario.

That rather than keep Paul Sturrock in a job, the players fought to put Steve Wigley in one.

E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport