Martinez: Whelan is Wigan's secret weapon to avoid drop

 

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The Independent Online

Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, believes the club's secret weapon in their bid to haul themselves off the bottom of the Premier League this weekend will be chairman Dave Whelan.

After a promising start to the season, Wigan's form has collapsed. Their seventh straight defeat, against Fulham last Saturday, sent them to the foot of the table and Martinez is desperate to end that dismal run against Wolves at Molineux on Sunday.

Despite everything, though, Whelan publicly backed Martinez this week, insisting the former Swansea manager is not in danger of the sack. Now the Spaniard has returned the compliment, declaring that Whelan, with his vast footballing experience as a player and chairman, will help to lift the team.

"The chairman at this club gives us direction," Martinez said. "He has not felt the need to speak to me this week. In fact, we have spoken less than we normally do.

"The fact is, he has such a calming influence on everyone at the club. He knows football. He understands the game. He has played at every single level. He has done the same as chairman. He is desperate to see the team winning, as we all are. He is such a great motivator. He will have a real influence on Sunday."

This apparently strong chairman-manager bond first emerged two years ago when Martinez was lured away from Swansea to succeed Steve Bruce at the DW Stadium. As one of the "Three Amigos" who helped Whelan launch his bid to take Wigan from the basement of the Football League into the top tier, Martinez has an undoubted affinity with the homespun club.

Even this summer, after preserving Wigan's top-flight status with a last-day win at Stoke, Martinez refused to turn his back on the club and join Aston Villa. The 38-year-old has no regrets about showing that loyalty, saying: "It wasn't a decision based on football. It was a decision based on loyalty and to repay the support other people showed in me.

"That was a clear choice. Maybe sometimes people find it hard to see the positives because of the lack of results recently, but behind the scenes this club is making big strides forward."

PA

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