On Thursday of last week I had another opportunity, along with Jay T (Cockney Latic), Migs (Mudhuts) and Farri (Wiganer.net) to spend some time in the company of Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez down at the clubs training facilitates at Christopher Park in the players canteen.
Roberto spoke candidly and passionately about the Latics, there were no holds barred and the four of us had been encouraged to talk to the boss about whatever we wanted to, inevitably the conversation got round to the players and below are a sample of what he said about the named players:
Roberto was asked about the situation regarding Paul Scharner and he said that he was leaving the club but went with his and all the staffs best wishes, he felt that Scharner had been a fantastic servant to Wigan Athletic during his four years and that he had made some massive contributions both on and off the field of play.
He said that Scharner loved the Latics but felt that it was time to move on
“Paul Scharner I think has been quite clear with his feelings. I think Paul has loved every single second at Wigan Athletic and I think he probably feels that now is the moment for him to move on.
“I think it would be very unfair to judge him on the last third of the campaign. I think for Paul, the first two thirds of the campaign he was really focussed and he performed at a very good level. I remember, for example, Chelsea at home is as good an example as I have seen him play and in being effective.”
“I think there have been some games, especially at home where he has been impressive. Probably his levels have dropped a little bit towards the end of the season.
“I think Paul is a very, very honest man and you don’t normally get that level of honesty in footballers. I think he probably feels now that he needs a fresh challenge. He has enjoyed every single second here, but after almost four and a half years it is probably time to move on.”
Roberto was asked about Scharner speaking to the press about his proposed moves to Fulham or Everton and if he felt that it should be done privately rather than publicly?
“Yes, but that is what makes individuals.
“Again, that is a culture thing, sometimes you know that Austrian’s don’t behave the same way as the English, and Spaniards, and that is where the trick of getting a football club represented by so many nationalities, sometimes requires you to be a little bit loose. You have to understand that if he was from Chorley then I would agree with you!”
“But sometimes because he has a different background, sometimes you need to look at other aspects. I am looking at how professional he has been, what he has been giving over these years to Wigan Athletic, and overall I think he deserves a lot of credit. He is someone who I respect a lot, because as a professional he has been as good as you can be.
“Wigan Athletic, has got to be bigger than any one individual. We need to start believing that. Yes we don’t want to lose players, but we don’t want to lose players who are fully focussed on Wigan Athletic and want to improve, and they want to win games for ourselves on a daily basis.
“If you get a player who you feel the time is right for them to move on, then we should be big enough to replace them. But at the same time that doesn’t mean that we need to be negative towards these characters. I think that we need to be able to look back and say, what they have done for Wigan Athletic, this is the moment to applaud him and thank him.
“When you are part of the family of Wigan Athletic, it is hard. We need to extract ourselves from the emotion of the moment and say that Paul Scharner has been here for four and a half years and we need to recognise what he has done for the football club.
“He has played over 100 games in the Premiership and he has been a fantastic servant. We need to look at the overall deal and we need to keep that in mind for Monday.”
Roberto was asked if Mike Pollitt was due to retire from playing at the end of the season
“Hopefully not, because you always assess players and their fitness levels and the way they enjoy their football and it would be hard to guess Mike Pollitt`s age when you seem him training and working. He is a huge, huge character, and an important character in the dressing room.
“Especially when you look at we had twenty-two different nationalities this season and that brings you a huge clash in cultures. If I can persuade him to stay on, I would love to have him here next season”
Roberto was asked about Gohouri and his situation with the club and if we are going to sign him.
“He had a difficult time at Munchengladbach and he never played for seven months. He is a physical player and if you see him close up, he is a real gifted player in the physical sense.
“It has taken us probably fourteen weeks to get him upto his level. When he came in, we got him straight away up to the intensity of the Premiership and he got injured a couple of time which is a sign of soft tissue.
“When he played against Portsmouth, he was perfect, he was ready. I then felt that after playing two games in five days, we were risking him to get another injury so now he has had another ten days of working and he will be ready for the last two games.
“His best position is as a centre half, but if he could choose he would play on the left side of the centre defence.
“Steve has been a bit of fresh air. The hunger he has got to be successful is unbelievable and he wants to go to the World Cup. He qualifies for Ivory Coast and I`ll be surprised if he doesn`t go and I have been very pleased with his attitude.”
Roberto was asked about Ben Watson and whether he has now seen enough in him for the midfield man to have a future at the club.
“I saw the change that I wanted to see. It was physicality. Ben technically is one of the best players we have got in the squad. He can see a pass, he has got the best switch of play and he is perfect in that side.
“Where he needed a little bit of help was with the physicality. I saw that when he went to West Brom. They played Reading, away from home, and I saw that he got that straight away.
“Sometimes you need that. I think Ben when he arrived at the football club had a couple of niggles and he has never been able to be physically himself. And once he had that, you could see in the game against Arsenal, he was much better.”
To be continued?
Meeting the Boss article one
Meeting the Boss article two
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