Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez took time out of a very heavy schedule to meet supporters of various Latics websites yesterday afternoon. The club has picked up on some rather negative vibes following a run of eight consecutive defeats, and in a bid to bring a little solidarity and positivity back, this meeting was planned so that Martinez could answer supporters questions during what are undeniably worrying circumstances.
Barry Worthington over at vitalWIGAN has made public his audio recording of the event, so I don’t intend to report on the meeting exactly as it happened, for that you would be well advised to listen to Barry’s recording.
I would firstly like to point out that the invitations to the event were for each website editor and a site user, preferably with some pertinent questions as Roberto did indeed intend to answer critics as well as supporters ie website admins perceived by others to be shall we say ‘blinkered’ ?
Answering solely for myself here at TNS we did just that.
I will concentrate on TNS input into the meeting whilst also commenting that all the questions that the site received are in the club’s possession. Time constraints and the format of the meeting meant that neither myself of Hindsight were able to ask them all.
I expressed disappointment in the fact that two of our better youngsters were currently employed elsewhere and wondered whether or not we have young reserve team players at least ready for a place on the bench, given the current run of results that we are experiencing.
Roberto insisted that both Roman Golobart and Callum McManaman are being very closely monitored, he also implied that Callum in particular will be ready for first team action in January.
He also felt my assumption that placing youngsters on the bench could encourage themselves and the team to always strive for better was incorrect, in his professional opinion it is too risky to employ this tactic at Premier League level.
Hindsight then enquired about his theory that training methods could be improved. Roberto insisted that the training methods used by the club are some of the best in the country. When asked about bringing in an outside body to monitor things in the training camp Martinez insisted that on any training ground you are dealing with human emotions and any kind of input from other sources would be detrimental.
Chief Executive Jonathan Jackson thought Martinez’s response was very calm and collected, but let’s not forget that the whole point of the meeting was for Roberto to answer truthfully any of the more thorny questions!
I enquired about our loan quotient and was given the answer that during the summer, the right players were not available. Patrick Van Aanholt is still in the process of learning how Wigan Athletic expect him to play but it look likely that a second loan player will be incoming in January. Roberto confirmed that we, as a club, are only allowed to register two Premier League players on loan in any one season.
Hindsight’s next question regarded ideas as to how the club could get involved in increasing the atmosphere at the ground, especially among the school children. But both Ed Jones and Jonathan Jackson felt that the club’s work with youngsters was exemplary. The club also wanted to feel that support was spontaneous and not contrived by the club, as this could have some awful repercussions.
It was revealed that former Wigan Athletic player Neill Rimmer had a new role at the club which now involves preaching the gospel of Wigan Athletic to the town’s youngsters.
Given some rumours flying around as to who is the replacement youth development officer, I asked if anybody had been appointed to replace Dave Watson. Roberto gave no names at all but he revealed that in terms of youth football at Wigan Athletic, it is something that will expand as the club brings in youngsters from all over the world, who will be looked after by the club and nurtured hopefully into the players of the future. He wants to alter the climate at the moment that he feels makes it difficult for youngsters to get into the game at this level of football.
I sense that it is going to be a massive project, more importantly it is a long term project that Martinez seems fully in control of.
Time was catching up with us all rapidly by now and other subjects, many of which TNS regulars wanted answering, were answered. We were all given a last opportunity to ask a really vital question that we wanted answering.
By now I felt duty bound to ask the man himself how much longer, should this woeful run of results continue, it would take for him to step down as manager. His response was that he had a job to do at Wigan Athletic. It was a long term project and as long as he had the backing of the chairman he would NEVER quit. I hated asking the question and thanked him for his honesty in answering it.
Jonathan Jackson then revealed that the club itself had a great manager, it would break even this year and was in a position in which great things could be built from.
In short we have a manager with very long term plans, a manager that the chairman believes in and a club that is financially sound. Yes, I am aware of our limitations, but I feel strongly, having met the powers that be on numerous occasions, that the foundations are there for the club to press on.
Never forget that just by listening to someone, or reading something written down, you do not get the complete picture. You need to meet the people in such a setting as this, and when you do, believe me, there is no mistaking the passion and commitment from everybody at this great club from Mr Whelan to the tea lady.
TNS will always allow a supporter, any supporter, to attend any of these meetings in the future. The more people who feel the passion of this club, the better.
For full details of the meeting I would highly recommend a visit to vital WIGAN, where you can hear for yourself the full train of events.
I thank the club, especially media manager Ed Jones, Jonathan Jackson and of course Roberto Martinez for allowing us the opportunity to continue the tradition of these quite unique events.
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