Football

Martinez still has plenty to prove

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Martinez may have led Wigan to survival. (©GettyImages)
Martinez may have led Wigan to survival. (©GettyImages).

Roberto Martinez was at his lowest ebb last November after watching his Wigan side succumb to defeat in the Premier League for the eighth time in succession and claim a new club record in the process.

After 11 fixtures, the Latics were bottom of the league with a points tally of only five, a goal difference of negative 13 and a deficit of five further points between themselves and salvation.

Wigan at least ended November with a morale boosting victory against Sunderland, yet only managed to post two further wins before the end February, and relegation appeared to be inevitable.

Yet it is now anything but a forgone conclusion, after five wins in their last seven games, including the notable scalps of Liverpool and Arsenal away from home and Manchester United at the DW Stadium.

If November was the nadir of Martinez's three years with Wigan, the recent run - culminating in the 4-0 defeat of Newcastle on Saturday - is his zenith, and the Spaniard could yet be rewarded with a more prominent position during the summer.

The Latics may only be three points above the relegation places with two games remaining but, with fixtures against already doomed Wolves and a Blackburn side in free fall, the smart money says Wigan will retain their top flight status for another season.

Should they plummet then Martinez will almost certainly depart for pastures new, but remain in the Premier League and Wigan chairman Dave Whelan will be optimistic he can convince the 38-year-old to stay with the club.

Whelan does, however, sense Martinez's exit is inevitable, but will provide the former Swansea manager with all the support and resources he can prior to his eventual departure.

"He's doing a magnificent job," said Whelan following the defeat of Newcastle last weekend.

"I've always said Roberto will go to one of the top clubs in Europe and when that time comes he will leave Wigan with my blessing.

"He's just a brilliant manager and he will get one of the top jobs in Europe.

"I don't want to lose Roberto but it is inevitable he will climb the ladder."

He added: "Managers need support too. He got support from the chairman and he got support from the fans too.

"We've not had one fan crying for his dismissal and every fan in Wigan has been behind Roberto.

"Hopefully now we can stay in the Premier League for another season."

Last summer, Martinez could have joined Aston Villa, but remained with Wigan owing to his genuine affection and loyalty towards Whelan.

Yet this year could prove to be a different proposition for Martinez, and the weekend papers had linked him with a move to Tottenham, had Harry Redknapp become England boss.

Roy Hodgson's ascension to that position would put paid to any hopes Martinez has of moving to White Hart Lane in the short-term yet, realistically, the former Motherwell midfielder should focus on moving to a side less established than Spurs in order to further hone his skills.

Although he can boast 125 games as Wigan manager, the majority of which have come in the Premier League, it is unlikely he would be targeted by one of the division's more prominent clubs until he proves his capabilities away from the DW.

Perhaps, with Hodgson set for England, West Brom could provide Martinez with this opportunity, with the former leaving the Baggies as a now established top-flight side.

Martinez has already proven with both Swansea and Wigan that he can win while playing attractive football but he has, so far, done so at clubs with low expectations.

He is, without question, a fine man manager and has proven he can be tactically astute, yet he still must demonstrate that he can manage expectations at a club with greater standing.

Such have the dire performances of Villa been this season under the guidance of Alex McLeish, Randy Lerner may return for Martinez at the end of this campaign.

Although both Villa and Wigan share the same points total at the present time, the stature of the former is unquestionably far superior to that of the latter, and would provide Martinez with the chance to significantly enhance a burgeoning reputation.

If Whelan does believe that Martinez is destined for one of the top positions in European football, the Spaniard must first show that he can flourish after moving diagonally to his next job, before he is allowed to climb vertically.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Wigan Athletic
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