The Wigan ‘Who are You?’: (2) better off with Martinez than Bruce

Bernard Ramsdale (far left), and others, meet the Wigan boss Roberto Martinez

Yesterday, a lot of readers came this way to read a tremendously moving article by our old friend and Wigan Athletic stalwart Bernard Ramsdale on the struggles he and his wife have made, ably backed by an army of professional and lay supporters, to give quality of life to their brain-damaged son. Somehow it seems inconsequential that when our two clubs kick off at the Stadium of Light tomorrow, both teams and arguably at least one manager should be striving for somewhat lesser aims, those of Premier and job survival. Even so, Bernard agreed to answer a slimmed-down version of the “Who are You?” questionnaire …

Salut! Sunderland: That leaves the football questions, Bernard. Explain the present problems facing Wigan and where you think they will lead the club

Hmmm, put simply were are trying to play like Barcelona with players that do not have the ability to do so. However, the club is living within its means and will break even this year. The club is not in debt and is actually in the black. The future of this club is a long term project that does not involve spending money they do not have. This, in my opinion will reap dividends later. Football just can not go on like it is doing at the moment. Manchester City, top of the league with money to burn. Manchester United second, but reportedly well over £600m in debt, with everybody else following suit. It’s crazy.

And for what? One of three domestic titles, two of which the clubs aren’t bothered about until the semi finals stage? One decent European competition? It’s time football got real.

So in summary, that is the real problem facing Wigan Athletic. It’s not nice getting beaten most weekends but when all the other clubs in this league get a reality check, it will be too late for them. I’m thankful for the club’s foresight and plans to live within their means which bode well for the future.

The pundits talk of Roberto Martinez as if he was safe come what may, What’s you view on that, and on what he’s tried to do at Wigan?

Well, let’s put it this way on Wednesday November 9 at 6.50 pm I asked Roberto Martinez personally whether or not he would consider resignation. He replied that he has a long term job to do at Wigan Athletic and will see it through. He will never resign. So, given the fact that the chairman has recently intimated that he is not overly concerned just yet, but that he would sack Martinez if he felt it was in the club’s best interests, only time will now tell.

If the question had been “would you like to see Martinez leave?”, the answer would be a resounding No. In my opinion he has been better for this club than his predecessor, Steve Bruce, ever was.

Steve would have carried on spending and let’s be honest: he left Wigan so that he could shop at Harrods instead of Tesco. Given Sunderland’s financial position and current league status, he himself has not exactly been a runaway success has he? You are a few places above Latics and hey, “every little helps”, or does it?

And the first photo above shows you at a meeting with Martinez. To anyone connected with Sunderland fanzines, fansites etc, this is utterly mind-boggling and tells us a lot about the kind of club and man you are dealing with. Are these meetings solely for people like you or are mainstream press invited, too?

These events happen roughly every five months or so. They are meetings between Larics website owners and their invited guests. The club’s chief executive usually accompanies Roberto and the press are not usually invited, although on occasion both parties agree to the press being present to report about the event later. They are asked
never to report on what is actually said during these very informal get togethers though

The meetings have previously been held at the clubs training camp, the DW Stadium dressing rooms and even the boardroom in the past. The latest one was in the players lounge.

Roberto opens himself up and answers every single question that is thrown at him, even some of the, (shall we say?) pisspotical ones! In many ways Wigan Athletic are still a small town team and I do not mean this disrespectfully. What I mean is that the club’s powers that be do not have a big club attittude and they appreciate that as a club they can grow as the fan base grows. They look after the supporters. They look after the supporters very well.

What Wigan Athletic have got is very special. Roberto Martinez’s plans revolve around youth. He is overseeing a major project in which the club is building a facility to house some of the best youngsters from all over the world. They are then going to live and breathe football, the Barcelona way. If Roberto can’t find the players at the right price to play his way (ie the best players available from clubs like Barcelona, Manchester City, Real Madrid etc, etc), he will breed his own. Amazing isn’t it?

So when people look and wonder why Roberto is still here despite two, and now maybe three relegation scraps, the key lies in the future. Wigan Athletic can not afford to eat at the captain’s table, they certainly won’t incur debt by trying to do so either. So the idea is to create a tastier menu of their own. Fascinating stuff!

I believe you can’t be at our game. How will you keep tabs on it and how do you see it going?

I will be attending a game at local non league club Ashton Athletic who will be playing a friendly against a Wigan Athletic Old Boys team. This is because the club is holding a donation for the Anthony Ramsdale Appeal and I will be picking it up on the day. I will get texts and messages about each and every incident at the Stadium of Light. My finger will still be on the pulse, don’t you worry about that!

As for a prediction , I’m going for a 2-0 home win. But only based on the fact that ALL my predictions have been wrong so far this season. So the law of averages tells me that surely this one can’t be wrong as well?

* Bernard is co-creator of This Northern Soul, an amalgamation of four Latics fan sites. Read his moving and inspiring story of his son Anthony by clicking here.

Interview: Colin Randall

2 thoughts on “The Wigan ‘Who are You?’: (2) better off with Martinez than Bruce”

  1. I must add, that at the time of writing this I thought the Ashton Athletic game was on the same day as the Sunderland game. It isn’t, it is actually tonight. But even so, I will be taking in the FA Trophy game between Colwyn Bay and FC Halifax for obvious reasons tomorrow.

  2. Martinez always strikes me as a very dignified and intelligent man. Obviously he was approached by Villa in the summer and turned them down in order to fulfill his contract with Wigan. I hope they manage to survive this season. They were obviously very unlucky on Saturday with the Blackburn ‘penalty’; who knows what this weekend will bring?

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