Some of the recent vitriolic comments about Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez and chairman Dave Whelan really do beggar belief. The abuse and personal insults aimed at the manager and chairman now verge on the ridiculous. The Internet Warriors (nothing to do with our Rugby friends) who pen their missives about Martinez and Whelan’s misdemeanours in biblically cataclysmic terms need to get a sense of perspective.
As a group of fans we have been very privileged to enjoy Wigan’s rise through the leagues and the great days we have had in the Premier League. Not many clubs can point to such a meteoric rise, and also to the fact that ‘Little Wigan’ have managed to stay in the top flight for seven seasons.
Obviously we are currently going through a difficult period on the pitch, with injuries and an unprecedented number of individual mistakes proving costly, but the manager and his coaching staff are desperately working to get us back on track.
Despite what the doubters might say, Roberto Martinez has an excellent track record in football management. As Swansea manager he led the Swans to one promotion and the verge of a second, and at Wigan he has maintained Premier League status for the past two seasons while also managing to reduce what was an unsustainable wage bill.
At 38, Roberto is still one of the youngest managers in the Premier League, with a long career ahead of him. Last season as we battled to avoid relegation he was surely the calmest manager of those in trouble and he always stuck to his footballing beliefs. When he has had to deal with difficult players his man management skills have been exemplary.
Roberto has continually demonstrated his commitment to the club and after turning down the Aston Villa job in the summer his loyalty shouldn’t be questioned.
Dave Whelan may not be universally liked for his ‘rent-a-quote’ approach to media relations, but his contribution to Wigan Athletic has been nothing less than remarkable.
Whelan’s reign can only be regarded as a major success, promotion to the Premier League seemed an impossible dream when he took over in 1995. A long stay in the Prem and a 25,000 capacity seater seemed like a fantasy scenario back then.
When he leaves the club he will have left the club with a great legacy and the fans should thank him for that.
Yet many of the rabid critics seem to want Martinez and Whelan out of the club now. They seem to have no understanding of modern football, the history of Wigan Athletic or the current financial parameters which we have to work within.
As Dave Whelan has often said, if someone wants to come forward with the financial resources required to run the club, he will happily make way. Whelan would prefer someone with the long-term best interests of the club at heart, but the danger is that whoever takes over the club after Whelan will either not have the financial wherewithal or will only be interested in asset stripping.
Wigan may, or may not survive in the Premier League this season, but it will not be for the want of trying by the manager and the chairman. The constant carping by some so-called fans certainly doesn’t help the club’s efforts to survive.
All true Wigan Athletic supporters need to get behind the team tomorrow at Newcastle and in the future.