Wigan Athletic supporter and Vital Latics member Robin Burgess aka rjb lets us know how he feels about Roberto Martinez, the Latics and hopefully what the future holds, over to you rjb:
‘Roberto is here for the long-term.’ Music to the ears of this Wigan Athletic supporter. Ever since I`d seen his remarkable ability as a manager at Swansea, how well he had their team playing, how successful they were, and how stylish they were, I`d thought, ‘Ah, if only the `old boy` would return to Wigan.’
As a Tottenham fan since 1957, just in time to see their ‘double-winning` exploits, I`ve been a fan of passing, stylish, attacking football. When ‘Championship Manager 2’ came along in 1996, I chose Wigan Athletic in League Two to `manage`, as my wife is a Lancashire lass (though I`m afraid I`m a Londoner who has lived in Leeds for 40 years, so please be gentle with me). It seemed fairly easy, with careful planning, to take them up to the Premiership in `CM2`. If only the `real` Wigan Athletic could do that!
And then they did! The first time Tottenham vs Wigan came up, I thought, ‘I can`t lose here. My first and second teams playing each other.’ And then, quite soon after the game had started, I suddenly realised, ‘Hey, I want Wigan to win this game!’ Without realising it, I had changed allegiance from a team I`d supported for 40 odd years to the small-town newcomers. My second team was now Tottenham!
Perhaps in part it was the British love of the underdog, perhaps it was that after Glenn Hoddle, Gazza and Chris Waddle had left Tottenham, they didn`t play so often with that style I so admired (Jurgen Klinsmann excepted), perhaps it was that initial choice I`d made in a computer game … Whatever it was, I had no doubts it was now Wigan Athletic I supported. And when I started that computer game in 1996, `The Three Amigos` were part of that team, of course.
So the dream (see above) came true, though was it a year too early for Roberto to take over? Could he cope with the step up? Many would see the loss of Steve Bruce – and earlier, Paul Jewell – as great blows to the hopes of the team`s stability and/or progress. Both were very good for the team, and just what we needed at the time (sadly, Paul had burned himself out in service of the club) but perhaps their `natural` time had come to move on, ready for someone to take Wigan on to the next level. (DW had felt it only fair to give Chris Hutchings the opportunity when Paul went, and the timing was fortuitous as Steve Bruce might not have been available at the start of the 2007/8 season.)
So, could Roberto`s philosophy, enthusiasm and incredible knowledge push Wigan Athletic forward to that next level? Were we ready for his expertise, or would we be unable to cope with the challenge? Were we destined to be forever a small-town club, at some point likely to go back down, or were we ready to move on, first to the upper reaches of the Premiership and then – say it softly – to European competition itself?! We now have the manager who can take us there, if we, the supporters, can hold our nerve.
As worbo found (please correct me if I`m wrong here, but this is the impression I received from reading accounts of his `forum meetings`), actually meeting Roberto last season and hearing from him first hand of his enthusiasm, his vast level of knowledge, his plans for the future, the structures he`s putting in place for realising those plans, and above all his dedication to Wigan Athletic, made a huge difference to the way he was perceived. Suddenly, instead of being uncertain if Roberto could pull it off, he became able to appreciate that we can, together, indeed move on to that next level at our `family` club.
The new players all say how friendly they find the atmosphere here, how much behind the manager`s aims they are, how disappointed they are when they let him and the fans down, through less than 100% performance (remember how determined they were to put things right after the 9-1 game, and how successful they were in that next game against, of all teams, Steve Bruce`s Sunderland).
We`ve seen glimpses of how good the team can be under Roberto when everything clicks, beating no less than 3 teams we`ve not beaten before at this level, plus we had that outstanding opening away win last season at Aston Villa (that at the time seemed to promise so much – but it wasn`t to be, not yet). Roberto has had his baptism of fire, and he survived – because his philosophy is sound. The only question is whether his players can live up to his high expectations. They are all fallible human beings. They fell into the trap of complacency against Blackpool (as had Chelsea against us, last year). And I`m sure the Charlie rumours that were going round in the press wouldn`t have helped – almost all of which have proven false, remember. Why do we pay so much regard to what the papers `report`??
We all have the option of believing that we have the manager we need at this particular point in time and believing we can go on to greater things or of continuing to think that we cannot rise to the occasion. No doubt some of us think we can only `tread water` at best. I choose to believe that we have the very best manager possible for Wigan Athletic at this time, who understands the aspirations of both DW and the fans, and that we are extremely fortunate that someone so talented is so loyal to this club.
p.s. thank you also to Jo Bradley aka wigginer for her excellent, inspiring `longer term view` article!
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