Roberto Martínez deserves another shot at the big time with Wigan

Alex Sharp takes a look at Wigan Athletic's remarkable recent renaissance under manager Roberto Martínez

Alex Sharp
By Alex Sharp
roberto martinez
Roberto Martínez has masterminded wins over Manchester United and Arsenal J Bové, via Wikimedia

roberto martinez

Keeping your integrity in the heat of the battle, when millions of pounds are at stake and when millions are scrutinising your every move, must be extremely difficult.

Every weekend we have managers castigating the officials, sometimes correctly, such as the Wembley goal line farce on Sunday – but Wigan boss Roberto Martínez is one who normally stays ice cool under intense pressure.

He always supports his players, treats officials with respect and is the model managerial professional.

The Latics survived on the final day of last season thanks to a Hugo Rodallega strike and once again Wigan have found themselves spending the majority of the season struggling at the foot of the table.

Martínez’s side had only won back-to-back Premier League games once under his stewardship before the unexpected but quite superb Manchester United and Arsenal victories. But despite these huge wins he remained focused and modest in the post match interviews.

Monday night at the Emirates encapsulated everything about Martínez. Managing with a weak fanbase, lack of funds and a tight squad, the 38-year-old still manages to motivate the squad and scrap to the very last whistle with high intensity.

His squad lacks a spine with quality. Connor Salmon and Franco Di Santo, for example, have failed to provide enough goals. On the other hand, Victor Moses is displaying the quality that attracted the scouts at Crystal Palace and Ali Al Habsi is a consistent, marvellous goalkeeper.

Fulham, Newcastle, Blackburn, Wolves are their remaining fixtures – and those final two are evidently crucial.

Wigan’s recent performances, with four wins in their last five, have given the Latics survival momentum, they have the hunger and desire. For his determination and integrity Martínez deserves another crack with the big guns.

Someone who is dramatically losing his integrity is Ashley Young. The Manchester United winger has been caught diving in ridiculous fashion to earn Manchester United penalities in their recent wins.

The diving debate has rumbled on for as long as the technology debate. Both are tedious and both need sorting immediately to save the integrity of the game.

Clearly, players such as Young are perfectly happy to simulate, dive, jump, roll, feign in order to manipulate the officials.

The officials already have a hard enough deal and players should have enough self respect to win games with their quality and endeavour.

It’s time for referees and managers to force players to change. Retrospective action could be the answer, like a panel in rugby union or Formula 1 but the definition of diving or manipulating the referee could become a minefield to sort.

What is clear, however, is that behaviour that aims to manipulate the referee needs to be eradicated. It has to come from the players, the managers and the governing bodies. That means change won’t be round the corner.

Until then an instant booking for simulation would stop the theatrics which are stealing the limelight away from the real show.


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