There are some things that require patience to get the full benefit, but this quality tends to be rare in these times of the instant gratification generation and speed of information sent and processed.
In the Season Preview for Wigan Athletic.”I predicted a position of around 13th-15th is possible, anything higher would be a bonus or having to fight on the last day would be stagnation” Both of these objectives were achieved, the last three matches of the season all being wins and providing very different feelings. Newcastle where it was such a joy after a few idiot fans and their manager Alan Pardew had been stirring during the week and were thrashed with scintillating football. Blackburn was tense, but such a relief when survival was guaranteed and Wolves was party time.
This season has been such a contrast, some poor and dire performances in fact before January these were the most commonplace with the odd good showing in between. In all areas it was poor, the midfield wasn’t creating any opportunities for the forward, not even holding the ball which is something they have been good for. Up front only goals Franco di Santo was scoring were off deflections, Rodallega poor and Connor Sammon couldn’t escape the reel. This was putting pressure on the defence which were making basic errors and general poor decision making within the squad.
Attack wise they were impotent it seemed like they were stuck in last season mode when in doubt pass it to Charlie N’Zogbia see what he can up with. Yes, it was a team effort just most players not playing well at the same time apart from Diame and Al Habsi, others had their moments just not many of them.
It’s important to remember the poor and difficult times at the start of season, as not to get too caught up with the hype of the great finish and revival of the season. The Wigan Revival has been great to watch seeing the transformation of the team with no confidence, not wanting the ball to one dominating Man U, Arsenal, Newcastle, Chelsea (blind officials notwithstanding) with their possession football, off the ball movement, mixing it up going wide and in the middle.
Tactically it took Roberto Martinez some time to get the tactics and formation he wanted with the players that he has. The 3 at the back was able to use Jean Beausejour down the left and Boyce down the right to the best of their attacking abilities and they drop back in defence to make it 5 at the back. Beausejour and Maloney have been instrumental in the creative side since Wigan lack a goalscorer they were able to get contributions from all over the park. Fortunately there weren’t many injuries during this period. Martinez was able field a stable side and this is the situation managers’ love when it’s because of the high quality play and not through a lack of viable alternatives.
Wigan’s recovery and survival this season has been admirable as there was no panic from the club, no knee jerk reactions into sacking Martinez and they stuck to their principles of playing good football. It’s very similar to another one of my favourite sides SC Freiburg, a small club, that plays excellent football, not great finances but they did it their way Resurrection . There are places for these kinds of clubs within football world. It’s important that what was achieved at the end of the season with the results and style of football doesn’t come to nowt.
What happens in the summer is vital for the development of Wigan Athletic as a club. It can go in many ways so it’s better to deal with the negatives first.
There are advantages of being a small club, players and managers can develop in a quieter environment without the spotlight on them, as they learn their trade, make mistakes and learn from them which doesn’t happen at the bigger clubs as expectations are different. Naturally the flipside to this, as soon as a Wigan player has a good season then they automatically become a transfer target for bigger sides. This is just par for the course and the way football operates.
Hugo Rodallega, Mo Diame, Gohouri and Kirkland are all leaving on free transfers, personally it would have been better if Diame was kept unless they turn Sammon into a defensive midfielder because he isn’t scoring goals. Now with the silly season is here the big transfer targets are Victor Moses and Roberto Martinez which are interesting and annoying at the same time.
Victor Moses aka The Saviour is a big talent who has done well this season but in reality he is still too raw to move to a big club at the moment. His agent like most agents don’t care about their clients just to take the biggest cut for themselves at the expense of finding clubs that can further their clients’ football development. Yes, Moses has great pace and can beat a man easily, while he has improved his decision making on the field it’s still poor and the final ball isn’t there. It would be better for him to stay for 1-2 seasons get the rougher edges out of the game, and then get the big move to a decent team unlike say Charles N’Zogbia for example.
Naturally the club is the key and the one that needs to have the strongest structures as players and managers come and go. Since the revival now every club seems to want hire Roberto Martinez as their manager Aston Villa, Liverpool, Wigan Warriors, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Barcelona, WBA, The Orwell Pub for example. It’s strange really it’s like what has happened before the revival has been forgotten about with Martinez. It’s the classic instant gratification and bandwagon of the month syndrome, it’s not like he has taken Wigan into Europe and this comes from someone who has and will continue to back Martinez at the club.
It would be silly for Martinez to move next season. Naturally there are those who will argue got to strike when the iron is hot or he has taken Wigan as far as he can and they’re entitled to believe this. Reasons as to why it would be silly for him to go to Villa or Liverpool at the current times, yes they are bigger clubs and he will move to a bigger club but timing is the key for any successful move especially in football. It’s very difficult to rebuild a broken reputation as a manager look at Steve McClaren for example.
He is a young manager and it’s taken 3 seasons for him to finally get the football he wants from his team, let’s see if Wigan can do it for the whole season so there is a challenge for him there. If he is able to achieve this then he can have nearly any attractive job he wants. There are close bonds with the club and the chairman Dave Whelan who does talk a lot of rubbish, even then he has his moments of clarity.
With Dalglish being sacked from Liverpool, Martinez is the bookies favourite for the job. Liverpool fans don’t want him for the job, they want instant success and they won’t give time to managers who aren’t club legends. Yes, Liverpool is a big name club, they expect and want a big name manager. At the moment they’re trading on past glories and the type of football Martinez wants will take time to implement. Can’t see the fans having patience when the player struggle initially to adapt. Then there are the dressing room egos Martinez doesn’t have enough of a ruthless streak to deal with people that want him to fail because he isn’t one of them.
Ideally for Wigan Roberto Martinez would be with Wigan for another 2-3 seasons. The style of football will be entrenched, the youth teams should be playing this style and a replacement for Martinez can be found within the existing structure. There are successful templates for small clubs to follow Udinese are the ultimate example with great scouting, buy low, sell high make profits on player sales, play good attacking football and have achieved success despite their limited size and income streams.
On a smaller scale there are guys like Volker Finke, Foppe de Haan and Guy Roux use Google if necessary. These guys were long term managers at Freiburg, Heerenveen and Auxerre they set the template for how their clubs play attacking football through the ranks, excellent scouting, focusing on youth development. Their legacy to their respective clubs is assured and the clubs have survived in good and bad times, adapting to changing trends in the sport.
Kids are always honest
Whether or not Wigan can build upon their excellent finish to the end of season depends on retaining Roberto Martinez. Getting good replacements within budget that have the potential to suit the system, getting a loan deal from Man City since we helped them win the title. It’s time for Whelan to start negotiating terms with Roberto Martinez and get it sorted quickly, better for the players, the fans and all concerned.
No matter whether Martinez stays loyal for now or succumbs to the instant gratification of the filthy lucre and fans who won’t have patience if they aren’t winning instantly. The club will always be bigger than any one person.
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