Date: 16th May 2012 at 9:24am
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C.Bick says: Roberto Martinez? No thank you.

Since Eck’s sacking for the past few days the club has been several managers to take over and more heavily with Paul Lambert and Roberto Martinez in particular. Now I’m a big fan of Lambert and we’ll get to that later but for know I want to give my opinion as to why ‘El Judas’ would be a poor choice for manager at Aston Villa.

If we look back at Martinez’ time at Swansea, the success he achieved there is highly impressive to say the least. After taking control of Swansea in 2006, Martinez almost lead the team to a playoff birth in his first year at the club before losing to Blackpool 6-3 on the final day of the season. Roberto didn’t let this disappointment get the better of him however, as he lead Swansea a League One title in only his second year at the club and as a manager. Upon entrance to the Championship, it looked as if Martinez would achieve back to back promotions after losing just 4 games out of 30, but his ambition got the better of him and he was off to Wigan for the 2009-10 season.

This is where things start to take a turn. Martinez came to Wigan after the club had just come off an extremely successful season finishing 11th place under Steve Bruce. This was the 2nd best finish the club had ever achieved and it was clear that Martinez had big shoes to fill. More impressive was the fact than Wigan achieved this feat having lost Wilson Palacios to Tottenham and (wait for it) EMILE HESKEY!!! to you know who in January. Wigan also suffered the loss off another pair of key players in Antonio Valencia and Lee Cattermole in July to Man U and Sunderland alike. I think it is safe to say that Martinez inherited an all but gutted squad.

The loss of the key players in the summer took a toll on Wigan’s season for that year. Despite the signings of quality players such as Mohammed Diame, Hugo Rodallega, James McArthur, and Jordi Gomez, they fought relegation for the entirety of the year only staying up via a run of good form towards the end of the season. Wigan finished 16th with 36 points and a -42 goal difference; the worst in the league.

For the 2010/11 campaign, Martinez made additional key signings such as Victor Moses, Antolin Alcaraz, Gary Caldwell, and Franco Di Santo. He also set his sights on a top-ten finish which he made very public to the fanbase. Despite Martinez’s summer spending and ambitious season objectives, Wigan were once again thrown into a relegation dog fight and were bottom of the table for much of the campaign. However, a great run of wins towards the end of the season saw Wigan once again surviving until next season. Wigan ended the campaign in 16th once again with 42 points. Despite being linked with other jobs, *ahem*, Martinez chose to be loyal to Wigan and signed a new contract keeping him at the club for another three years.

The 2011/12 season saw the signings of players such as Shaun Moloney, David Jones, Ali Al-Habsi. Conor Sammon, and Jean Beausejour in January. Yet once again, Martinez’s side found themselves in the bottom three for a large portion of the season. However, towards the end of the season, yes you guessed it, Roberto somehow managed to win enough games in the last few months to finish 15th in the league with 43 points, Martinez’s highest league finish and points tally since arriving at the club.

Now that I’ve given you a brief background to Martinez’s career so far, I can now tell you why this is far from the right the man to take over the Claret and Blue. If you’ve been paying attention you’ve noticed a pattern in Martinez’s time at Wigan. This pattern, however, is not an upwards one, but rather a pattern that stays grossly level. In addition to finishing in the bottom 5 for his entire time at Wigan, Martinez has managed to keep his team in the bottom three for the majority of their season, to then somehow get them winning at just the right time to be able to barely survive just for the same thing to happen the next season. Clearly not the marks of a top manager. The fact is that if Martinez had kept his team within 14-17th place the majority of his 3 seasons, and produced the same results as he has, he would have nowhere near the amount of praise and sympathy the media gives him at the moment. The reality is that the press love managers who provide good stories for their blogs and tabloids and therefore they can rarely see the big picture.

When I look at Martinez’s record at Wigan, I see over 25 signings in a span of 3 years and 3 bottom 5 finishes to show for it. This is course cancels out those arguments that we got so often with defenders of McDraw saying, ‘he hasn’t gotten to form his own squad yet’ If my information is correct there are less than 5 players currently part of Wigan that were not signed by Roberto Martinez. Two of them are keepers. Wow.

Another pattern we can clearly see throughout Martinez’s entire career was that the only time seems to be able to motivate his players is when an achievable and clear goal has been presented to his team. With Swansea, promotion seemed an achievable goal and he therefore had success with promotion from League One and probably promotion from the championship had he stayed with Swansea. With Wigan, it has obviously been survival. When he set his goal as a top ten finish, it was unclear to his team on how exactly they were to achieve this goal. Yes, win football matches of course but there is of course always more to it. With a survival goal, his team could clearly see what the goal was and how to achieve it. It wasn’t an overwhelming task since they knew they could accomplish what they were asked. As a result, their confidence soars.

That is exactly what has been missing from Roberto’s Wigan side all along. They went into the season thinking they weren’t good enough. The goal seemed too distant for Martinez’s men to be able to fuel their passion and drive. And that right there is the difference between what makes a great manager, and a great tactician. It’s not about how ‘attractive’ the football is that a team is putting forth, or even what general style you choose to implement within your squad. What makes a great manager is someone who can get his players to give him their absolute best performance they can give him, week in, week out. That is what separates the Alex Fergusons from the Andre Villas Boas’s, it’s what keeps the David Moyes’s pushing for the Champions League, far away up the table from the Alex McLeishs praying for a draw.

We are at a period at Aston Villa where the club should not be in the business of taking risks like what we are in danger of doing. Villa fans need a team that can make them proud to be fans of the greatest club on Earth. They need a team that will tell them that their money hasn’t gone to waste, a team that looks like they don’t want to be anywhere else on a Saturday at 3pm than at Villa Park fighting for glory in front of the Holte End. We want a manager who cares about the club almost as much as we do, and won’t jump ship* at the first offer of a bigger job. THAT, gents, is why for now, Roberto Martinez is the wrong man for Aston Villa Football Club.

Thanks for reading. UTV

*Since I know I’ll get comments about this I’ll clarify things. Martinez left Swansea as soon as he knew Whelan wanted him at Wigan. This after declaring he would not leave Swansea unless he was ‘forced out’. Swansea fans called him ‘El Judas’ after that and rightly so. Bit like Downing, eh? He probably stayed with Wigan last year because he knew Villa didn’t have squat to spend in the summer and figured he could land a better job the next year. Not if Villa and Liverpool read this though! 😛

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