Friday, May 25, 2012

Norman Hubbard on Roberto Martinez and Liverpool

Roberto Martinez has been to Boston before. It was February 2004 when the Spaniard visited York Street. But that was Boston, Lincolnshire, not Boston, Massachusetts. Then he played the full 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw for a Swansea side mid-table in League Two. Now he has been discussing becoming the latest addition to an illustrious list, including Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish: the Liverpool managers. Martinez had seemed set for a summer of change long before the invitation from Fenway Sports Group arrived. After 29 games, only Wolves prevented Wigan from propping up the Premier League. They had 22 points. Oakwell, not Anfield, beckoned next season. Instead, after spending three-quarters of the last two seasons in the relegation zone, a promotion may be on the way.

Wigan's subsequent, startling renaissance may suggest Martinez is the flavour of the month. Had Dalglish been dismissed two months earlier, it is improbable the Spaniard would have figured on the shortlist to succeed him, and yet the timing and manner of Wigan's ascent suggests that, behind the ever-present smile, there is a manager of mettle.

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