Can Martinez Stop The Rot At Wigan?

Roberto Martinez Manager Wigan Athletic 2009/10 Aston Villa V Wigan Athletic 15/08/09 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International

Last season, the one team who no-one was surprised to see to go down were Hull City. The dreadful run that began in November 2008 saw them go the rest of that season with just two wins, against Middlesbrough and Fulham out of 23 matches. Incredibly as we remember, they stayed up on the last day of the season as none of their rivals could win to overtake them.

Last year, they managed to get 4 more wins before December 31st to end with the dreadful record in 2009 of just 5 wins in 38 league matches. It was at times painful to watch, but strangely another team is currently on a run of 4 wins in 21 matches this year, Wigan Athletic. Yet unlike Hull, Wigan are beginning to ship goals like it’s going out of fashion.

Of course, some may say losing 6-0 to Chelsea is no shame, West Brom had conceded the same amount on the opening day visit to Stamford Bridge. Yet losing your opening two Premiership matches, at home, with a deficit of 10 goals against and none for is more than troubling. Chelsea have set off like an express train, but losing to Blackpool by 4 clear goals is disturbing. Of course, Wigan finished last season awfully, as once again Chelsea ripped them to pieces 8-0.

They lost by 3 or more goals 9 times last season, including Chelsea’s 8 and Tottenham thumping 9 past them. What astounds me is how a team, which at times plays an excellent brand of football, can cave in so spectacularly when they go 2 goals down. Surely Roberto Martinez has to say to his chairman that the club’s transfer policy has to change immediately. For me the chairman Dave Whelan has a part to play in the clubs transfer policy of buying young raw talent and then selling it on for profit. The team is woefully short of experience in all areas of the pitch and it is really beginning to show.

I’m not one of those people who thinks teams like Wigan shouldn’t be in the Premiership. They got there on merit and despite crowds being the lowest on average in the Premiership, the club rightly deserved it’s place in the top tier. Worryingly though, the club is beginning to haemorrhage supporters. The average of 17,884 last season has already fallen this year by 2,500, despite Blackpool and Chelsea selling their allocations of 4,200. The home fans are leaving in droves, the attendance fell by 1600 between those two game alone.

I appreciate in this day and age that some clubs need to be prudent with the finances but Whelan’s policy of selling every asset has had a detrimental effect on the side. Last year the club made a net profit of £25 million in transfer activity with the Valencia and Palacios deals alone coming to £28 million. Financially, it is excellent business but it has left a team completely bereft of any expeirence and guts. When the chips are down, Wigan simply fold time and again.

It is crushing to watch this side get taken apart so easily. The game against Blackpool must have been humiliating for Latics fans to stomach as they should have and could have lost by more. The performance improved markedly against Chelsea, but once again the game ran away for them and towards the end, certain players stopped trying. With the clubs player of the year, Charles N’Zogbia now wanting to leave, the club is sliding away already.

The transfer window is shutting on Tuesday and Martinez has tried to bring in some experience at the back, with Steven Caldwell joing brother Gary, but the team is crying out for more nous throughout its ranks. Martinez impressed people with his achievements at Swansea City but he is seemingly carrying the weight of financial responsibility at Wigan to the extreme. Whelan has to realise that fans will not come to watch their team get hammered week in and week out.

No-one is saying that they have to go out and spend stupid amounts of money, but they are in free-fall. Something needs to be done to help Martinez out. No one is in any doubt that without Dave Whelan, Wigan Athletic would not be in the Premiership. Of that there is no doubt, but at this rate they’ve only got 8 months left as a Premiership club and as Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City, Sheffield United and others can testify, it’s a damn sight harder to get back in to it once you fall out.
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