The Football League Paper - - INSIDE -

AS DAVE Whe­lan bows out of Wi­gan, let’s not re­mem­ber him as the blun­der­ing buf­foon of re­cent times.

Yes, he said things that, by to­day’s stan­dards, are patently un­ac­cept­able. But to judge a 78-year-old man by to­day’s stan­dards is nei­ther help­ful or fair.

I have ar­gued many times that us­ing racist lan­guage does not equate to be­ing a racist; ped­dlers of this sim­plis­tic dogma are, at best, naive, and, at worst, will­fully ig­no­rant.

We have all met fun­da­men­tally de­cent peo­ple who, through age or back­ground, par­rot racial stereo­types with­out mal­ice or mean­ing. It isn’t pleas­ant and shouldn’t be en­cour­aged, but let’s not make mon­sters of men who don’t know bet­ter.

Ul­ti­mately, though, we have to bal­ance bad with good and, on this count, Whe­lan more than tips the scales.

Not only did he raise a club from Di­vi­sion Four and take them to the Pre­mier League. He won the FA Cup. He gave breaks to young man­agers and play­ers. He built a sta­dium.

How many lo­cal peo­ple were em­ployed along the way? How many mil­lions of pounds has Wi­gan’s rise pumped into the lo­cal econ­omy? How many dreams did he ful­fil when the top-flight was fi­nally reached?

Th­ese are the ques­tions we should ask when as­sess­ing his le­gacy. Any­one who feels a few out-dated views in­val­i­date that can­not see the wood for the trees.

ER­RORS: Dave Whe­lan

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