Kolo Toure says he is relishing the “unbelievable challenge” he has taken on after being appointed as Wigan boss.
The 41-year-old former Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool defender’s first managerial role sees him taking charge of a Latics outfit lying third-bottom of the Sky Bet Championship.
Wigan sacked Toure’s predecessor Leam Richardson, who had guided them to promotion from League One last term, in November following a run of six defeats in seven matches.
When it was put to Toure at a press conference at the DW Stadium on Wednesday that he had gone in at the deep end, the Ivorian said: “It’s a great challenge, for me that’s perfect.
“These are great guys, I think Leam did a great job to bring them up and he made them work as hard as they could until now, and for us, with my staff, I will try to push them even more to get some results. I’m looking forward to the challenge, this is an unbelievable challenge.”
He added: “We want to make sure every fan of Wigan is proud of the team. Every game we play, we are going to play with heart. We will play with a lot of energy, working hard, and any team playing against that will have to work really hard to beat us. This is my philosophy, that’s the way I used to play as a player, and that will never change.
“We want to build and it’s all about the process, we have to trust the process that we will implement. With the chairman (Talal Al Hammad), with (chief executive) Mal (Brannigan), we had a good chat and we know where we want to go. We will just give everything every single day to make this a better football club.”
After winning the Premier League with both Arsenal and City, Toure moved on to Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers. He subsequently joined Rodgers at Celtic for the conclusion of his playing career, and worked as part of the Northern Irishman’s coaching staff there, before doing the same at Leicester.
Toure expressed his gratitude to his “mentor” Rodgers, and said: “It was a process for me. I knew that to be a good player doesn’t mean you’ll be a good manager or coach – that’s why I felt like I needed to work with a top manager, which was Brendan Rodgers, and learn all the skill a manager needs. That’s what I’ve been doing for five years, and when Wigan came, you can’t turn that down, when you’ve been waiting for five years.”
Wigan have also brought in former Crawley manager Kevin Betsy and Ashvir Johal, who had been working alongside Toure at Leicester, to the new first-team coaching staff.
Betsy and Johal were at the press conference as well, along with Brannigan.
And when the chief executive – who stressed his confidence that Wigan will stay up – was asked how much it being a coaching staff from diverse backgrounds had come into the thinking, he said: “None whatsoever – you have to look at who you get, who is the best person for the job at any point in time.
“We all come from diverse backgrounds, all of us in the room. That’s obviously part of our character, but it’s got nothing to do with your ability to do the job, and what we wanted to do was get the best person, and the best group of staff come in alongside that, and that’s what we think we have.”
Betsy said: “I think we have a huge responsibility to Wigan and the community here to do a really good job for them. We know we want to do well for the club first and foremost, and then hopefully, we can be role models for other people.”
Johal said: “My primary aim is to help Kolo support the team in training, in games, and if the quality of my work inspires other people from a Sikh background, then that will be pleasing.”
Wigan’s first match under Toure, who has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract, is at Millwall on Saturday.