Tuesday night saw Roberto Martinez take his first Wigan Athletic Fans Forum and boy did he impress the sell out 350+ Latics fans in attendance.
Tickets for this forum sold out two weeks before the event and sold over 100 more than either of Steve Bruce’s and Pauls Jewells.
The fans that turned up were not o be disappointed either as the Spanish maestro woo’d them with is calm and honest responses to all the questions, even one about ‘why there was a lack of fixture cards at the ticket office’.
Unlike his predecessors, he didn’t once stray away from calling Wigan Athletic ‘our club’ or ‘how we are going to do’ as though Latics is part of his family, and to a point I genuinely believe that hi s heart pumps Wigan Athletic blood around his body.
His hour long stint lasted for over 90 minutes and in that time he explained about how he uses tactics, not hoof ball, where he expects us to be and how plus shed a bit of light into what dealings he will undertake in January.
The questions started off really easy! With one of the audience asking what was really said in the Fergigate scandal, and after having a joke explained ho t he Spanish press were desperate to have support for Rafa in the quest to knock Manchester Unites and its manager and so misquoted Bobby to that effect. He went on to tell us that he preferred the UK press as he knew where he stood with them.
Questions were asked about why the players and why they played in the positions they did. Bobby said he could keep us there all week when it came to tactics and he would constantly change tactics to play against every team. But in a nutshell he plays Rodallega on the flanks because he basically to light to play up front in this system. He explained that the Columbian causes far more problems to opposition out there and ultimately will get far more chances to score there.
Scotland is perfect for the centre forward spot because of the size and presence of the player, he went on to say that he still doesn’t know whether he is left or right footed he is that good with both feet. He is a handful and although hasn’t scored yet he has provided the platform for others to get chances and that is what he asks of him, he went on to promise that when he does get that elusive goal we will see a totally different player that will go on to score plenty.
On why N’Zogbia was put at left back against Fulham, he was straight when he told us that he wanted to win the game and they way he thought we could do that was by having as many attacking options on the pitch as he could and so he brought Sinclair on for Edman who had surprised him by lasting as long as he did.
He gave us a bit of good news about Maynor Figueroa, the initial thoughts were that he would be out for the rest of the year, but he shocked us by saying he will probably feature against his current suitors – Sunderland. Bobby sited that the left back had chosen to stay at Latics in the summer as he wanted to repay the faith we had shown in him, although he wouldn’t be drawn on what would happen in the January window.
Commenting on Jordi Gomez he still thinks we will see a lot more from him. He said he had to throw him in too early and that he feels in time the Spaniard will prove to Wigan fans that he is a quality player and that he will make an impression in the Premier League. We have to remember that he is still very young and that he will improve and we will see it before the end of the season.
He feels that Chris Kirkland is playing at the top of his game and through the worst of his injuries. He thinks that he is a very strong contender for the England job in South Africa as there is no better English keeper at the moment than him.
Paul Scharner is apparently as happy as he has ever been at Wigan right now, his comments about leaving every year is confounded by the fact that he is our longest serving player at the moment and that he playing his best football right now and enjoying himself at the club right now. He did though mention that as his contract runs out in the summer, if something cannot be negotiated with him before January, then the club would have to think out what they are to do with regards to him.
On January he did say that we are very short on numbers, but he does have his eye on four players and funds are now available for new players now that the books are balanced. He feels that over the next two months the team will be mentally right and that over the next six months we will be playing the right way as well. The confidence will grow and although it will probably be too much of an ask for a Europa place this season (he wants those 40 points ASAP), he did specify that we will be looking to have the squad and the performances to get us to that next level within the next two to three years.
Someone actually suggested why Zaki is not a consideration and was just the chairman that was putting a block on him. He replied “It is not just the chairman, it is the players the staff even the tea lady who doesn’t want him back”. He also was asked about Catters, to which he said, although they made great strides in Austria and he was happy there, he said that the constant chasing wore him down to the point that he was persuaded to leave and at the end of the day he as much as handed a transfer request in. Bobby stressed that although they want to keep players, they will not keep players here that don’t want to be there.
When asked about the Youth Policy, he said the problem lay with UK Youth policy not with Wigan, too many kids are thrown into games too young, are bought by top teams too young and nobody is allowed to develop. Kids should be allowed to ply the trade until they are 22 – 23 apart from rare exceptions. But the UK clubs as a whole doesn’t allow them this and so it is hard for clubs to develop any talent never mind for us to develop local kids.
Bobby want all the players at the Club to be aware of where we came from and he wants the Springfield Park spirit to be instilled in all of them. He wants the club back in the community and he is going to provide the football that will get the crowds into the games.
A couple of snippets of info for us were, his favourite players are Ian Kilford, Arjan de Zeeuw and Andy Liddell; they all feature very strongly in his memories. He also said about his best times at Springfield Park…. Tuesday nights, no team ever enjoyed playing us on Tuesday night.
The final word goes out to Cockney Latic’s ticket winner Andrew Freeman….. Did you get those flowers for your question????
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