When the then Swansea boss Roberto Martinez turned up at the doors of the DW Stadium in 2009, chairman Dave Whelan said something that had the potential to haunt him for the rest of his career.
The out-spoken businessman described him as another “special one”, cut from the same cloth as the original Portuguese extrovert, and with that set the Spaniard up for the greatest of falls.
But Martinez has just about managed to avoid the pitfalls of being grouped in with a manager considered the finest in the game. In spite of the poor attendance at Wigan, the disinterest of the supporters who did turn up, and an underwhelming squad, Martinez delivered Wigan to safety and ensured a 6th successive season in the Premier League.
The turning point came when Martinez’s side put in perhaps the most defining performance of last season to complete a dramatic comeback against West Ham to give the Lactics a shot at survival against Stoke. That they snatched this opportunity came about from that 3-2 over West Ham; but more than that, it seemed like a turning point for the club as real passion poured out from a packed crowd.
But that looks likely where it will end for Martinez and Wigan. Villa have been given permission to speak to the 37-year-old, who has now been installed as the favourite for the job, along with Owen Coyle.
There is no doubt either man would do an excellent job; Martinez’s passion, and above all else his composure in the face of adversity marks him out as one of the brightest young managers in the game, while his time in charge of Wigan would have hardened any soft spots found in his armoury.
But take Martinez out of Wigan and what have you got? A club that is built in the image of their manager who then have their manager taken away.
Any momentum, any progress that the club have made is down to him and a small group of trusted players; and without him; Wigan’s future would lurche back to uncertainty once more.