|MOSES DEPARTURE MEANS WIGAN MIRACLES WILL BE MADE BY MARTINEZ AGAIN
Betfair: 27 June 2012
Reproduced with permission from betting.betfair.com. (c) The Sporting Exchange Limited.
He's been linked with every managerial vacancy in the Premier League this summer but Roberto Martinez has somehow remained at Wigan and with key players likely to exit, the Latics look set for another season of struggle, says Ralph Ellis...
It's hard not to like Roberto Martinez. He's unfailingly polite, totally unflappable, and I saw him last season just as calm and analytical in press conferences after his Wigan team had beaten Manchester United 1-0 as he had been when they'd been flattened by five goals at Old Trafford earlier in the campaign.
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So it was quite interesting watching him almost fall out with the rest of the ITV panel as they were dissecting Spain's performance against France on Saturday night. Roy Keane and co. were all agreed that while the French had been awful, Vicente Del Bosque's World and current European champions hadn't been that great either. Martinez got as near as you'd ever see him to being aggressive as he defended his countrymen, explaining that they always "find a way to win".
Now "finding a way to win" strikes me as being a much better philosophy than "being hard to beat", as I know my betting.betfair colleague Jamie Pacheco will agree. And I suspect that it's an attitude which has lain behind the phenomenal success Martinez has had in keeping Wigan alive in the Barclays Premier League for the last two seasons.
It looks pretty certain now that he's going to have to do it a third time. Despite having his name linked heavily with the Liverpool job by his own chairman, and being among those courted by Aston Villa before Paul Lambert was appointed, Martinez has not moved on. At one stage he was backed at 1.09 to be leaving the DW Stadium, but the current price for 'yes' in the Martinez to go market is up to 3.75 and I suspect it will move higher.
It won't be easy because just as last summer it looks as though his top players are likely to be moving on. Chelsea are vigorously chasing Victor Moses, with opening offers of around £4million and the former Crystal Palace player keen to come back to London. West Ham, meanwhile, are close to completing the free transfer signing of midfielder Mohamed Diame who is out of contract.
Chairman Dave Whelan is kicking up a fuss about Moses going, blaming his agent and accusing the talented winger, who weighed in with six goals last year, of being motivated by greed.
"We took this lad as a teenager and everything he has he owes to Roberto Martinez and Wigan Athletic," the 75-year-old has said.
In the real world that sounds like a strategy only to raise the fee as high as possible. Everybody knows that Wigan's ability to survive depends on developing and selling for big money a couple of players every season. The likes of Maynor Figueroa and James McCarthy will also be attracting interest.
So that all points back to Martinez having to work some miracles again. Betfair's punters aren't sure he can do it. The Latics are currently 2.72 to be relegated, only slightly longer odds than newcomers Reading 2.24 and Southampton 2.54. My view is that is one to back - if only because it always takes time for Martinez to get a new group of players into his way of thinking. Just like last season, and the one before that, they are likely to spend some time at the foot of the table and go short odds-on to go down, and that's when you lay them and sit with the market green while you wait to see if Martinez can again "find a way to win".
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