Few people hold down the same job year after year in modern history, retiring from the position they began their career in. Generally speaking the higher profile a job is the harder it can be to hold onto. Football managers know this all too well, especially those in charge of a club in a high profile league. The Barclay’s Premier League is notorious for seeing managers sacked midway through the season, often times through no fault of their own. After all, some managers are asked to accomplish the impossible with limited resources and talent.
There are always exceptions to the rule. Sir Alex Ferguson has been in charge of Manchester United longer than some of the game’s best players have been alive. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been at the helm since 1996. These men have seen counterparts at clubs big and small in England come and go, while they maintain a grip on power.
The 2011/12 campaign in England has already seen two managers sacked during the season, and another surviving the chopping block. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich parted ways with yet another manager, Andre Villas-Boas, and Wolves axed long time manager Mick McCarthy.
Wigan Athletic’s Roberto Martinez, on the other hand, despite flirting with relegation for most of the season, has managed to avoid being sacked and following strong public support from the Chairman Dave Whelan, he has masterminded a remarkable turnaround in their form which included some high profile wins seemingly against all the odds and has now guided the club towards survival in the Barclay’s Premier League.
Mick McCarthy and Wolves parted ways on February 13 after a dismal stretch that saw Wolves go 0-4-7 in Premier League play following a 2-1 victory in December against Sunderland. Over that same stretch, Wigan Athletic managed a record of 2-4-6. It is debatable that the two victories managed by Wigan were instrumental in saving Martinez’s job, as the Chairman had already kept faith in his Manager after Wigan had earlier in the season suffered 8 consecutive defeats, a set of results that would have earned a fair number of managers the key to the door marked exit.
With his back against the wall and the team’s survival on the line, Martinez rallied his troops. Since the date McCarthy was sacked at Wolves, Martinez and the Latics have gone 4-3-3 and pulled off victories that were nothing short of miraculous. First there was the historic 2-1 victory over Liverpool. That victory was a first ever at Anfield for Wigan and moved them off the bottom of the league table. The next week a 2-0 victory over Stoke City moved Wigan even closer to safety.
The Latics weren’t done yet however as they defeated Manchester United 1-0, their first positive result against the Red Devils in 14 meetings. And less than a week later Martinez’ men defeated Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in another historic victory for the club.
No two managers are the same. Every individual that leads a group of men onto the pitch has a different style of football he expects to see from his players. Being a manager is a near thankless job. Some owners, such as Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich, are impossible to please. Just ask Carlo Ancelotti. Fan expectations, owner expectations, style of play, and managing player egos are all hazards of managing a professional club.
Roberto Martinez has shown that sometimes it just requires patience in the tough times to right the ship. No one would argue that Wigan and Wolves work with different budgets. The players available to Martinez and McCarthy were much the same in talent. In fact, Wigan reported an operating loss of £7.2 million yet were able to do what Wolves could not do in turning their season around.
Time and patience have allowed Martinez the opportunity to rework his squad and instill faith and confidence in his players. The Chairman’s loyalty has been rewarded and their survival is one of the success stories of the season and a good example of that old saying that patience is a virtue, but not an attribute we see very often in modern game.
Guest Post contributed by Sam Harvey, on behalf of www.winkbingo.com