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 skeptical. 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. His teams are renowned for their good football. The appointment of a 32 year old Liverpudlian might go down well with Latics supporters.
For me, Gus Poyet is an outstanding candidate. He only came to the Premier League in his latter years as a player after having great success as a midfield goalscorer over seven years for Real Zaragoza. He was to go on and become a top player for both Chelsea and Tottenham in his late twenties, early thirties.
The Uruguayan lacks the sublime PR skills of Roberto Martinez, but in so many ways would appear to be his natural successor. His Brighton team played “Latics-like” football last year. My great old university friend, Tim Attree, a Brighton fanatic, first talked about with me about Poyet coming to Wigan a year ago, when Martinez was courting Liverpool. He told me how much Poyet had transformed Brighton and how he loved the football they played. He is devastated that Poyet might leave.
Poyet lead his team to the League 1 title, then to the mid table in the Championship, then to the play-offs.
During the past four years Roberto Martinez insisted on a level of football that many other clubs in the Premier League made no effort to strive for. The culmination was a wonderful FA Cup Final win, against the odds, but without negative tactics, playing stylish football.
Steve Bruce has been mentioned as a possible contender for the position. In his first two spells at the club he did a great job. His football was pragmatic, not pretty to watch, but was the order of the day.
The prospect of someone like Robinson or Poyet coming to Wigan and continuing where Martinez left off is mouth-watering.
Whatever his faults, Martinez left a legacy of good football at Wigan. It is something to be built upon, rather than destroyed for the sake of expediency.
Both Robinson and Poyet represent the opportunity for Martinez’s wonderful football legacy to continue.