Why has there been such an angry backlash from Wigan Athletic supporters over Owen Coyle's appointment as manager? Well, it seemed to take an eternity for Roberto Martinez to finally go and the recruitment process to begin. Things seemed to be perking up when the fans heard about a quality field of applicants for the position. Wigan hopes were building up. But there was a warning sign when Dave Whelan said that he was focusing on managers currently out of work. That cut out some more exciting possibilities and narrowed down the field.
"I have tried to stay away from managers who are in work at the moment because there is a fee involved with those." So said Dave Whelan, according to a report from a national newspaper on Wednesday. It seemed a strange thing to say, but maybe the comment was taken out of context. It's true that having to haggle with another club about compensation could delay the appointment of a manager. And true that haste is a necessity with Wigan needing to get things moving again, with so many players leaving the club.
The latest bookmakers' odds for the vacant Wigan Athletic manager position put Karl Robinson and Gus Poyet neck to neck. One never knows how much inside information the bookmakers can get their hands on, but you can bet your bottom dollar they have something to go on. When I first heard of Robinson's candidacy I was sceptical. A non-league journeyman who took over at MK Dons. But the more I hear about him, the more impressed I am. In terms of coaching qualifications few in England can match him.
In 1964 non-league Wigan Athletic did so well as to reach the big round of the FA Youth Cup and were drawn away at Everton. It was a wonderful achievement for Latics' youth team to get to that stage and it captured my interest. My friend, Melvyn, knew Vic Gaskell, Latics youth team goalkeeper, and badgered me to go with him to Goodison Park to watch this mid-week match. Barnes Travel Agents on Market Street, near Queens Hall, must have been owned by a Latics fan because they always laid on coaches for Latics games, no matter where - Bacup, Congleton, Oswestry, Darwen - to name a few gems.
If a week is a long time in politics, this month has been an eternity in Wigan Athletic's corner of football history. From that magical day at Wembley to the exhaustion and despair of relegation three days later, to the joy of the victory parade at which 30,000 Wiganers sang for Roberto Martinez to stay. Ten or so days ago, it appeared the Wigan legend was making demands for further investment in the club's training facilities and youth development -- today, the club has announced that compensation has been officially agreed and he will leave to fill the managerial vacancy at Everton.
I read an article the other day that said Roberto Martinez will take no less than five Wigan Athletic players to Everton if he gets that managerial job. Then again, you have to take these speculative articles with a pinch of salt. Everton are well-run, not known to pour big money into transfers. But looking at the players mentioned -- Antolin Alcaraz, Arouna Kone, James McCarthy, Callum McManaman and Shaun Maloney -- an obvious name missing was Jordi Gomez. Mention Jordi Gomez in a room full of Latics supporters and you will get an earful.
Just over four years ago, a Wigan Athletic team that was to finish in 11th place in the Premier League was gradually dismantled. The books were not being balanced, so the prized assets were cashed in and the wage bill slashed. In the January transfer window, Wilson Palacios left for Tottenham and Emile Heskey for Aston Villa for good money. At the end of the season, Antonio Valencia was sold to Manchester United for serious cash, but then Lee Cattermole followed Steve Bruce to Sunderland at a discount fee.
The writing was on the wall following that FA Cup victory. How much further could an ambitious young manager go at Wigan? Four years working on a shoestring budget, developing players keen to leave at the ends of their contracts. It was an uphill task for Roberto Martinez. One thing is for sure - if Martinez goes to Everton we will see the Toffees playing better quality football next season. They will not be as dogged and hard to beat, but they will be more admired for their style. But there is an outside chance that Martinez will not leave Wigan.
Just as the dust had settled on another unforgettable and emotional season of highs and lows, an official statement went up on the Wigan Athletic website confirming Roberto Martinez has been given permission to talk to another club, believed to be Everton. While most sources have taken the statement - in conjunction to some Dave Whelan quotes elsewhere - to confirm beyond doubt that Martinez will definitely leave Wigan, the carefully worded statement actually suggests that he remains the club's manager despite opening talks over a move.
"I have one ambition left in my life and that is to get Wigan back in the Premier League." So said Dave Whelan just over a week ago. It seems like the FA Cup win has put a new lease of life into the Wigan owner, 76 years old. At times, Latics supporters have pondered on Whelan's ability to keep motivated, given all that he has achieved for the club and his advancing years. How much longer can he keep it going? - Martinez still undecided on Wigan future Wigan Athletic without Dave Whelan does not bear thinking about at this moment in time.
A wonderful article by the Guardian on Monday quoted Trevor Silcock, 63, arriving at the FA Cup victory parade with three generations of his family. He recalled going to Springfield Park with his father and grandfather. "This is the greatest day of my life," he said, before adding: "After the kids being born, that is." - Whelan: Martinez D-Day approaching Trevor has to be the same person who was in my class in primary school. I have not seen him since he was ten. I recognized his name and age straight away and envied him for being able to be there for those cup celebrations.
No sooner had the dust settled on Wigan Athletic's FA Cup semifinal success over Millwall a month ago than a notion started circulating that the Latics could become the first club to win the FA Cup and suffer relegation the same season. Deep in their hearts, most Wigan supporters suspected that the combination of defensive injuries and late=season fixture congestion would probably make the dream double of survival and FA Cup a step too far. By the time a ball was kicked in the FA Cup final, just about every Latics supporter in the world had been asked what they would prefer: stay up or win the Cup?