Following on from Cockney Latic’s first article by the anti-Martinez brigade – albeit a recently converted one, and the forum melt-down that has been happening since the Swindon defeat, I thought it an apt time to defend the Martinez / Club cause.
Now, let me make this clear: I hold no grudges against Steve Bruce – and would certainly not resort to calling him derogatory names, nor do I claim Roberto Martinez is the finished article yet. What I will hold my hands up to however, is congratulating the decision to appoint Martinez after Bruce’s departure. What better way to rally the troops when their leader is fallen than crown a returning local hero (who also happens to have been doing a decent job at Swansea)?
You hear the press say thing like Kenny Dalglish knows Liverpool inside out, or Ally McCoist is Rangers through and through, well, Roberto Martinez is the nearest we have to that. Yes, Jewell was an ex-player, but in his heart (and voice, and dodgy leather jacket) he has always been a Liverpudlian. Martinez on the other hand has maintained a fondness for the club in interviews and articles, and it would appear that he has genuine affection for Wigan – or can fake it to a highly convincing level.
The difference between Wigan and the likes of Liverpool and Rangers however, is because the club after a few years of relative football league stagnancy, shot up quicker than a ‘Libertine’, unsurprisingly, the fanbase only caught up at the Premier League passport control. Unlike those clubs and their heros, there are many who hold season tickets at the DW who never saw Martinez play, and who, on his appointment, regarded him as some Spanish bloke who used to play for Wigan, way back.
But that’s not ample reason alone to support someone, who, let’s be honest, hasn’t got the club out of the bottom half of the table for a majority of two seasons despite revealing European football ambitions, nor are two cup defeats enough to vilify him.
Yes the result against Swindon was a bad one, and on a lesser note, also the loss to Crystal Palace, but let’s not delude ourselves here; other than getting to the Carling Cup final under Jewell, since reaching the Premier League our efforts in the two cup competitions have been largely poor, and on occasion laughable.
In the 2005-2006 season we may have reached the Carling Cup Final, but struggled to beat lower league Leeds United in our opening game of the FA Cup, only overcoming them after two draws and then penalties. We were then knocked out by Man City in the next round.
The following season saw us play one game in the Carling Cup – lost at Crewe, and one game in the FA Cup – lost at Portsmouth.
In the 2007-2008 season, our Carling Cup record was played one, lost one – to Hull. In the FA Cup we did a little better as we managed to beat Sunderland, only to be beaten by Chelsea in the 4th round.
The following season we mullered Notts County and Ipswich in the Carling Cup, but were in turn mullered by Arsenal’s kids, and in the FA Cup normal service was resumed as we lost our opening tie against Spurs.
In fact, other than the Carling Cup final season, the best run we’ve had in a cup since reaching the Premier League was when we got to the Carling Cup Quarter Finals, where we lost to Arsenal. The manager in charge for that run was a Mr M Martinez.
During the pre-Martinez era, it wasn’t always a bed of Premier League roses either: on ten separate occasions, we conceded four goals – and although we have recently broken all manner of goal conceding records, a thumping is a thumping, and I’d say four goals was a thumping. And, while I’m on the subject of thumpings, most of them came against the recognised big four, whereas in the last two seasons we’ve managed a draw and a win against Chelsea, a draw and a win against Arsenal, and a win and three draws against Liverpool – the type of result that was non-existent under Jewell, and occurred only twice (no wins though – two draws) under Bruce.
You may think the type of football we play now is boring. I don’t. I like football played on the ground, and I like the fact that Wigan are now regarded as a footballing team – albeit not a great one – but a footballing team nonetheless. I’d hate to be regarded as a rugby town, who play an uncultured style of football to match.
You may think the manager and club have no ambition. I don’t. I see a board and management team with their heads screwed on the right way, who understand the financial restraints of the club, and who cut their cloth accordingly. It isn’t lack of ambition, it’s being sensible and realistic.
Yes, you may think some of the players are not Premier League standard, but when you’re a small club, in an unfashionable town with limited resources, do you really expect we should be competing for the same calibre of players as the likes of, even, Fulham?
In a nutshell, I don’t care what you think. I like this club and I like what’s happened to it.
They say football is a results industry – well, not all of those results are on the pitch. We now actually have a club that is developing young players – some of them local lads, and as the wage bill has been drastically reduced, the club is operating within its means, and is no longer being bankrolled.
This is why I support the manager, the club, and why I will continue to support both of them while the marriage lasts.
To summarise – you’re entitled to your opinion, and this was mine.