The Big Question – Will Martinez Stay?
Roberto Martinez has a huge decision to make this week, whether to stay with the club that has been so central to his football career in England or move to a new club. Everton, Napoli and Malaga are all reportedly waiting in line should he decide to leave. Despite relegation the Spaniard’s stock remains high after winning a historic first-ever FA Cup for the Latics.
May 22nd, 2013
Since Martinez joined the club as a player in 1995 his affinity for Wigan has been clear for all to see. Although he was a successful manager at Swansea City, when the opportunity came to return to Wigan he could not resist the pull of a club that means so much to him. Martinez signed up to Dave Whelan’s project and as a manager he has now delivered a massive prize for the Wigan owner. The FA Cup is a particularly poignant prize for Whelan, who was carried off with a broken leg in the 1960 FA Cup final defeat.
During his tenure Wigan has achieved outstanding first victories against all the top clubs; a particular highlight being last season’s 1-0 victory over title-chasing Manchester United. The victory may have led to United missing out on the title, but more importantly it helped Wigan to stay in the top flight for another season. Martinez has developed firm foundations during his four seasons in charge while winning many new friends for his side’s attractive style of football. New training facilities are being built and the infrastructure at the club is much improved from the early years in the Premier League.
The young players are starting to come through, Callum McManaman being the prime example of a player who has been nurtured by Martinez. He’s also inspired and improved older players like Shaun Maloney whose career seemed to be going nowhere when Celtic released him. He has also picked up some great bargains from all corners of the world. Arouna Kone, James McCarthy, James McArthur, Antolin Alcaraz, Ivan Ramis, and Roger Espinoza were signed for a combined total of under £10 million.
Relegation is a setback for the club, but it is also an opportunity to regroup and hopefully make a swift return to the top flight. A prudent Martinez has ensured that Wigan are living within their means and not paying excessive transfer fees and wages. Some previous Wigan managers spent fairly extravagantly, but now the club is turning a profit and can have a sustainable future. It would be a massive wrench for him to leave, even though the resources available at another club will be greater. His emotional involvement and commitment to Wigan over the last four seasons has been unswerving.
He has previously turned down the advances of clubs such as Aston Villa and Liverpool, jobs that many other managers would have taken without much of a second thought. Martinez believes in the benefits of loyalty and long-term development and his relationship with Wigan has been a very special one.
In the final analysis, it may be that he does decide to leave to take on a bigger challenge, but if he does it will be with a very heavy heart, and knowing that what he achieved at Wigan will always be regarded as unique in modern football.
Photo of Roberto Martinez by Dan Farrimond – Licensed under Creative Commons