Roberto Martinez adds a touch of glamour at Wigan Athletic
08 August 2009 06:02
Jesus Seba and Isidro Diaz accompanied Martinez on a first foray to the north-west 14 years ago, when chairman Dave Whelan unveiled “the three amigos” to Wigan fans. At their compadre’s invitation they came back, injecting a dash of Latin elegance into a friendly against St Mirren.
Martinez has been hired by Whelan to produce precisely this effect as Wigan manager, creating a veneer of glamour for the Premier League’s least fashionable club. The first impressions are good: he sports a sharp haircut and natty suits, and looks more suited to a department store on Las Ramblas than a muddy dugout.
The type of game he favours is promising, too, based on pass and move, working the ball through midfield with a semblance of grace.
At Swansea this simple enough approach proved revelatory. The task of being promoted to the Championship was discharged with breathtaking aplomb in 2008, and Martinez’s profile soared.
All appear agreed that Martinez’s fate was predestined, that the Premier League would be the sole stage on which he could pursue his vision of perfection. But this fails to recognise that his philosophy is the antithesis of what most top-flight owners demand.
Martinez is frequently built up as the next Pep Guardiola, the Catalan hero who turned Barcelona into the side that could exhilarate and yet still win. A club in Wigan’s position, though, could hardly care less about the aesthetics so long as they are outside the bottom three come May.
Martinez’s reunion on Saturday with Seba and Diaz ought to have reminded him of Wigan’s essence, of its rugged, ramshackle charm. After all, when the three played together for the club in the late Nineties Wigan were still at Springfield Park, a dilapidated arena.
Martinez needs to be wary this season of shooting too high, too soon. There was no more artistically ambitious Catalan than Salvador Dali, who once said, “have no fear of perfection”, because he knew that he could never attain it.