Round-Up: Martinez faces grilling by chairman

 

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The Independent Online

Roberto Martinez will today meet the Wigan chairman, Dave Whelan, to provide the answers he has publicly demanded regarding the team's poor performance and the Spaniard's selection in their 2-0 defeat to Swansea, which leaves them bottom of the table and without a home win since August.

Whelan claimed that Martinez's job is safe, but questioned the absence of Mohamed Diame, Hugo Rodallega and Victor Moses from his starting line-up; Martinez blamed fatigue caused by the hectic international fixture list, which meant many of his players returned to England late on Friday night.

"This week was a disaster for us. The flying schedule made it impossible for us to prepare properly," Martinez admitted. "Every team must be prepared for that, but it is more difficult when you don't have a big squad."

Wigan were undone by two moments of individual brilliance from Swansea's Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, who scored two sublime long-range goals. Whelan's anger at the team's ineptness was exacerbated by their inability to break down the visitors, even though Swansea played the final half-hour with only 10 men after Nathan Dyer was dismissed for a high challenge.

Mark Hughes, the Queen's Park Rangers manager, has dismissed any suggestion of defeatism by Tony Fernandes, the chairman, who said last week that relegation is not impossible. "I think when we're asked a question, we'll answer honestly, because there is a possibility," Hughes said. "It's not what we we're thinking about, but we know we've got hard work ahead of us. I think people understand that [Fernandes] is here for the long term and he wants to make this club a special place to be involved in."

Fernandes had a beer with fans in the Queen Adelaide pub in Shepherd's Bush before QPR's 1-1 draw with Everton but might want something a little stronger when he looks at Rangers' remaining fixtures, which include games against six of the top seven.

Paul Robinson's heroics in helping Blackburn Rovers to a point against Aston Villa show he still has the quality to play for England. That is the view of his manager, Steve Kean, who praised the goalkeeper for keeping Rovers afloat before David Dunn's 85th-minute equaliser. "Paul is definitely good enough for England," Kean said. "Maybe with a change at the top he could force his way back in there."

Norwich City manager Paul Lambert expressed his frustration after seeing his side go down 1-0 at Stoke City to a Matthew Etherington goal that came from a throw-in awarded by a linesman after referee Michael Oliver had appeared to give it to the Canaries. "Our lads think it is our throw, we are out of possession, then we lose a bad goal," Lambert said. "It was there for everybody to see that it was a Norwich throw."

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