Martinez grateful to Whelan

Martinez has endured a difficult two-and-a-half years in charge at

the DW Stadium but his success in avoiding relegation with a small

club attracted overtures from Aston Villa in the summer. The

Spaniard resisted them to stay with Latics, whom he first joined as

a player in the old Third Division in 1995, and Whelan rewarded him

with a new contract. Whelan, a former professional footballer

himself, has since continued to back the 38-year-old throughout a

difficult start to the current Premier League campaign. Martinez

told “Big changes take a long time and the chairman

understood that and he supported me through thick and thin. “Now we

have the rewards, two years later we have an average group that has

played a lot of games in the Premier League but with a very young

age, and that gives you real good assets in the football club. “But

I think the way to play now is quite established in our football

club, and to do that you need to be a chairman that has been

involved on the playing field – not just in football – but on the

playing field. “He’s played in every division, he’s been a chairman

in every division and that’s a huge strength for any manager to

have that relationship with a chairman, that he understands the

game, he understands the footballer, he can see if you’re going in

the right direction or not beyond the results. “Sometimes we are a

bit fickle – we get carried away with good results and we get

carried away negatively with bad results, and he’s got that calm

presence of understanding if we are on the right path or not.”

Wigan, after collecting just five points in their opening 11

Premier League games, have lifted some of the gloom surrounding

their position with their last two performances. Latics ended a run

of eight successive defeats with a draw against Blackburn – when

they conceded one controversial goal and an injury-time equaliser –

before coming from behind to beat Sunderland on Saturday. Those

results have at least allowed Wigan to climb off the bottom of the

table and Martinez is determined to keep Whelan’s “dream” alive. He

said: “Obviously he is a persuasive figure and he’s such a winner

that you end up believing him. “Then when you sit down and you

think about the project and the aspirations, they are hard to

believe. “In 1995, we had an average gate of 3,000 fans at

Springfield Park and his ambition was to move into a new ground –

that’s the first thing he said, ‘We’re going to move into a new

ground and in 10 years’ time we’re going to be in the Premier

League’. “We got enrolled in that dream, that train of thought, and

you could see that he was doing things differently and we started

competing with other clubs. “It’s a fantastic dream to be able to

explain that we’ve been in the Premier League for seven years now

and we’re still going strong, defying the odds year after year and

starting to play a brand of football that makes everyone at Wigan

Athletic very proud. “It is demanding but the chairman is the

influence and the main reason why this dream happened.” Whelan, 75,

recently revealed he was considering passing control of the club to

his grandson when he decides to step down. Martinez said: “You

can’t imagine Wigan Athletic without Dave Whelan, one doesn’t go

without the other. “The chairman, actively or not, will always have

the presence, meaning and soul of this football club. “I don’t

believe him when he says that he’s going to step down, he’ll have

to be pushed away to leave Wigan Athletic.”