Wigan Athletic news

Martinez thankful for Whelan support

November 28, 2011

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez believes the club has a bright future because chairman Dave Whelan has stuck with him "through thick and thin''.

Dave Whelan Roberto Martinez
GettyImagesRoberto Martinez took over as Wigan manager in 2009

• Blog: Luck turns as Latics finally win

Martinez has endured a difficult two-and-a-half years in charge at the DW Stadium but his success in avoiding relegation with a small club attracted overtures from Aston Villa in the summer.

The Spaniard resisted them to stay with Latics, whom he first joined as a player in the old Third Division in 1995, and Whelan rewarded him with a new contract.

Whelan, a former professional footballer himself, has since continued to back the 38-year-old throughout a difficult start to the current Premier League campaign.

Martinez told FIFA.com: "Big changes take a long time and the chairman understood that and he supported me through thick and thin.

"Now we have the rewards, two years later we have an average group that has played a lot of games in the Premier League but with a very young age, and that gives you real good assets in the football club.

"But I think the way to play now is quite established in our football club, and to do that you need to be a chairman that has been involved on the playing field - not just in football - but on the playing field.

"He's played in every division, he's been a chairman in every division and that's a huge strength for any manager to have that relationship with a chairman, that he understands the game, he understands the footballer, he can see if you're going in the right direction or not beyond the results.

"Sometimes we are a bit fickle - we get carried away with good results and we get carried away negatively with bad results, and he's got that calm presence of understanding if we are on the right path or not.''

Wigan, after collecting just five points in their opening 11 Premier League games, have lifted some of the gloom surrounding their position with their last two performances.

Latics ended a run of eight successive defeats with a draw against Blackburn - when they conceded one controversial goal and an injury-time equaliser - before coming from behind to beat Sunderland on Saturday.

Those results have at least allowed Wigan to climb off the bottom of the table and Martinez is determined to keep Whelan's "dream'' alive.

He said: "Obviously he is a persuasive figure and he's such a winner that you end up believing him.

"Then when you sit down and you think about the project and the aspirations, they are hard to believe.

"In 1995, we had an average gate of 3,000 fans at Springfield Park and his ambition was to move into a new ground - that's the first thing he said, 'We're going to move into a new ground and in 10 years' time we're going to be in the Premier League'.

"We got enrolled in that dream, that train of thought, and you could see that he was doing things differently and we started competing with other clubs.

"It's a fantastic dream to be able to explain that we've been in the Premier League for seven years now and we're still going strong, defying the odds year after year and starting to play a brand of football that makes everyone at Wigan Athletic very proud.

"It is demanding but the chairman is the influence and the main reason why this dream happened.''

Whelan, 75, recently revealed he was considering passing control of the club to his grandson when he decides to step down.

Martinez said: "You can't imagine Wigan Athletic without Dave Whelan, one doesn't go without the other.

"The chairman, actively or not, will always have the presence, meaning and soul of this football club.

"I don't believe him when he says that he's going to step down, he'll have to be pushed away to leave Wigan Athletic.''