The next Latics manager

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.

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Man U duo for Wigan?


Two of Manchester United’s championship winning trio to Wigan Athletic?


The Manchester United duo of Mike Phelan and Rene Meulensteen are the bookmakers’ current favourites for the vacant manager’s job at Wigan Athletic.

What chance them both being appointed as a double act? Presumably with Phelan as manager and Meulensteen as assistant/coach?

The bookmakers still consider experienced managers, Owen Coyle and Steve McClaren,  being in contention, together with Karl Robinson. Interestingly the odds on Gus Poyet have been steadily lowering.

A return for Steve Bruce has not been ruled out by the bookmakers, although he has just got his Hull City side back in the Premier League. On Tuesday the Daily Mail reported that Bruce has been contacted about a return to the DW Stadium, but Hull deny any official approach having been made.

Graeme Jones’ future at the club remains unclear. Given his four years as Martinez’s assistant at Wigan he surely deserves consideration for the manager’s position. However. we will have to wait and see if Roberto Martinez will lure him away to Everton. Less than a year ago Jones was a hot favourite for the manager’s job at his previous club, Swansea.

One recalls that Martinez’s unveiling as Latics new manager had to be delayed until a wrangle over compensation for Swansea ‘s loss of Graeme Jones and Kevin Reeves was resolved. Would Whelan request the same for Jones and/or Reeves to leave Wigan for Everton?

It is a nervy time for Latics supporters. All the candidates have their strong points and there is not one who stands head and shoulders above the rest. It will not be an easy decision.

It is understood that Whelan is due to start interviewing tomorrow, expecting to make up his mind by the end of next week.

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Go for two, Dave


The classic double act was that of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor working in tandem. Together they won the First Division and two European Cups with an unfashionable club. What a duo!

As expected Roberto Martinez’s move to Everton grows closer and closer, despite the denials of the Liverpool club.

Rene Meulensteen and Karl Robinson are the bookmakers’ favourites. Either one would be a gamble, but an exciting one. It is refreshing to note that Dave Whelan is open to looking at alternative talent.

Experienced and very capable managers are available with the likes of Steve McClaren and Owen Coyle remaining in the running.

When Martinez goes he will almost certainly take Graeme Jones with him.

My message to Whelan is simple – appoint a duo from the applicants.

Agreed that this would be a burden on the wage bill, but compared with what players earn the salary of another senior manager is not so hard to afford.

The prospect of a Meulensteen/Mike Phelan or Meulensteen/Karl Robinson combination is mouth watering.

However, this columnist would ask Whelan to consider Gus Poyet. For me he is the natural successor to Roberto Martinez. The Uruguayan is not so skilled at public relations as the Spaniard, but his Brighton team have played champagne football this season. Moreover he has a fine pedigree as a top Premier League player.

In 1995 Dave Whelan signed the Three Amigos – Diaz, Martinez and Seba – to help Latics play more skillful football.

Now is the time for him to make another bold move.

The bonus is Whelan staying at the club – managers come and go, but his continuing presence is paramount to the club’s success.

Wigan Athletic would be languishing in the lower levels without Dave Whelan. He has made great appointments in the past and one hopes he can make another inspired appointment- or double appointment.

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