Premier League

Martinez Faces A White Knuckle Ride …But No Better Man For The Task

There has been little movement in West Lancashire this summer. But that is not to say Wigan have not made some key moves.

Martinez. most probably the nicest person you could meet at a football match, proved his integrity and honesty at the very beginning of the transfer window by nailing his colours to the Latics cause.

Roberto Martinez is held in the highest regard by the Latic’s supporters. To fans of other clubs Martinez is popular figure.  Martinez  enjoyed  success as a player with the Latics in the lower tiers of the football league. He returned to UK to manage Welsh side Swansea where he won promotion to the championship. But arguably his greatest success was when he returned to his adopted home to manage Wigan Athletic, keeping the small Lancashire outfit in the EPL.

Most, including me, thought that when  Villa came knocking that the promise of more money and bigger profile would prove to much for Martinez to turn down. But how wrong we were.  Unlike the majority of EPL clubs Wigan Athletic seem to retain the old nostalgic way of running things. Maybe if you ignore that the squad is predominantly south American. But what I mean is that the Chairman, Dave Whelan has a father-son relationship with his manager and former player, Roberto Martinez.

This is evident in the way Whelan talks about the jovial Spaniard.   When rumours first broke about Villa’s interest  Whelan did not deny his manager permission to talk to villa but simply asked Martinez to think about giving WIgan and their fans just one more year; after that, Whelan believes his manager will manage at the very top.

The sentimental ties between both men and their club proved too strong and Martinez decided to stay. His reasons where many; but he admitted that when things looked grim during previous seasons – the Latics got tonked 4 – 0 by Blackpool and 6 -0 Chelsea – and there were calls for a change in management, Whelan showed faith in Martinez’s abilities. In short Whelan’s belief.  never wavered. His faith and belief paid off. Martinez kept his cool and remained optimistic and Wigan rallied to finish off the season strongly.

Another signing this summer was solid goalkeeper Al Habsi who was on loan at Wigan from local rivals Bolton last season. During that season long loan, Al Habsi kept an impressive eight clean sheets.  He proved to be a vital cog in the Wigan machine and a big reason why Wigan stayed up.

Martinez and Whelan seem to thrive on loan deals,  another loan last season being Tom Cleverly, who scored important goals.  Martinez will have to find a decent replacement this season.  So far Martinez has singed experienced midfielder  David Jones from Wolves to fill the gap

Whelan’s faith has been repaid as his manager signed up for another year and he has shelled out the money for Al habsi and Jones. But he will need a lot more of both qualities  – and players – in the coming season. It sure will be a white knuckle ride down at the DW.

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