Sitting just inside the relegation zone is in itself a sign that things aren’t quite going to plan, but it’s not even a position they entirely deserve – Wolves, as I argued in the last blog entry, should be higher then they are. The good news is that although Wigan lost to the positively terrible West Ham last night they still deserve and are above them, just. The fact that with a win they could hop to fourteenth however, is a very shady piece of good news for Wigan, a little like when a global warming scientist says not to worry, everythings not gone to shit just yet. Wigan can still recover – but they would do well to click into gear. And with games at home to Stoke, away to Everton and home to Aston Villa to conclude the half way point, things could get much worse, melting glacier style.
Martinez came with a great deal of promise. He was playing excellent football with Swansea, taking the newly promoted team to within inches of a playoff place, before Wigan came calling as Sunderland poached Steve Bruce from the Lactics before he had been there much time at all. And again, as I tend to I thought Wigan would play some lovely stuff and shoot up the table. Alas, you have to look at Wigan’s progress over the past few years and wonder if he is overcomplicating a little. While the likes of Blackpool, Bolton and West Brom are looking secure (as you get in this topsy turvy season) Wigan have looked inconsistent, struggling against anyone, dominating against anyone, which tells you in a way that Martinez hasn’t got to grips with the premier league, and his vision isn’t quite there.
Of course the young players sprinkled through what is essentially a team without massive strength elsewhere is always going to cause trouble. Di Santo up front, Moses, Cleverly, Mccarthy and McArthur, all players who feature on a regular basis who you could easily describe as raw materials, who will have to mature fast over the coming months or sink with Wigan. And the combination of trying to play nice football and include alot of young players has without a doubt affected Wigans progress, if not sent it in reverse. And worse, their star player could well be gone in the next transfer window, which would be a devastating blow to Wigans hoeps of survivial.
In general however, the long term plan is a good one. Good football with good young players is bound to take you places, eventually. But there is such a thing as looking too long term – letting it affect your ability to win games (and perhaps trophies, Arsenal) And Wigan are taking a big gamble for their future.
That said you can’t help but think Martinez didn’t choose a great project for his move to the premier league. Football in Wigan is in most cases going to be second favorite to rugby and the Wigan Warriors, a fact of life which is always going to stunt Wigan’s ambitions. And perhaps that can be changed. But it would take a herculean effort from the club to make good football thats as attractive as seeing one of the top rugby sides in the country play. And if it were to be done, it would take a long time.
Perhaps Martinez will in the coming months wonder if achieving something great for Wigan Athletic is too hard. That said, his long term plans could yet come to fruition – and Martinez is not going to want to leave the club he played for for six years with a whimper.