…it’s losing with style.
What more could you want from a manager coming out of his first Premier League in charge? You might be ready with the accusations of naivety, no one gets anywhere in this division without a healthy dose of cynicism and without setting out not to lose games, rather than to win them. Try to win games and you’ll just get ripped apart.
Just look at West Brom last season, right?
Well, you could take West Brom’s season like that, or you could look at a season where they won friends everywhere they went but lost out because they didn’t quite have the edge that they needed. Trying to win games is what it’s supposed to be about after all and even on their most pragmatic days that’s how teams who win championships play each other. How ace would it be if the rest of us did the same?
The challenge for Roberto Martinez this season is proving that you don’t need to field 7 centre halves and a midfielder up front to be hard to beat and that a club like Wigan Athletic can meet their objectives by setting themselves up like the bigger boys, rather than just being plucky little Wigan.
I’ve long suspected, from Latics’ better days in the Prem, that any side with a good defence who took the view that they wanted to beat teams would fare well when the likes of Fulham and Boro came to town. The “tactic battles” that usually ensued in this type of game are simply a charade to hide the fear of losing and ultimately relegation that ruins this “best league in the world”.
It’s not just that Bobby’s saying what I want to hear though, he’s saying it like he means it. He knows that there’s more to winning games than playing pretty and he’s clearly not being soft about it either.
“Everything you do, you have to do it as a team. I think, in football, nothing comes as an accident. You need to work extremely hard… To play in the best league in the world you need to have a special personality and you have to have a winner in your side, and every (Latics) player has got that.”
I may be being over sentimental and exhilarated by the first flush of a new season, but what he’s saying to me is that if you want to stay with the big boys you have to play with the big boys. You need the defence and hard work to keep teams out, but the style and verve to break them down. It’s a risk it’s a balancing act, but as long as you’re bothered by more than Premier League survival, then it’s one worth taking.
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