Date:Friday June 5 2009
It's fair to say that this week has been a shock to the system for Swansea City fans everywhere. 'In Roberto we trust' has been the mantra of many since the Spaniard took over the South Wales club in February 2007.
Since then a combination of excellent media skills, scintillating football coupled with fantastic results has made 'El Gaffer' a hugely popular figure amongst players and supporters alike. Amidst all that, Swans fans everywhere believed they had a man fully committed to Swansea City, someone who felt as strongly about the club as they did, but it seems that faith was misplaced.
Repeatedly Martinez spoke of wanting players who would 'walk through the night' to play for Swansea City, players who could look at their long-term careers rather than short-term financial gain. And, when players disappointed him in this way, the main examples being Lee Trundle and Andy Robinson, they were carefully lambasted by the Spaniard for their lack of loyalty and foresight.
On top of that, Martinez professed from very early on, that his departure from Swansea City as a manager would be as it was as a player - forced. He describes how terribly Kenny Jackett treated him, and openly criticised the fact that players' contracts were allowed to run down, despite the fact he was to oversee the same thing happening at the end of this season.
Taking us back to the end of the 2002/03 'Great Escape' season, and maybe many people forget it took him a long time to sign a new deal. Many people criticised him at the time for holding the club to ransom, but welcomed him with open arms when he took to the pitch, but there is unlikely to be such forgiveness at the Liberty Stadium in the future.
Football can be and is an incredibly cruel game, and it is easy to understand (if not accept) why those involved with the game, as average people in average jobs would, accept jobs for more money. Lee Trundle escaped mass criticism because he moved to a higher level at the end of his career, and whilst proclaiming to be a Jack at heart, never went to the lengths Martinez went to in portraying his dedication to the club. A portrayal which now represents betrayal for the Swansea masses.
In stark contrast to that, Martinez now faces the criticism of all the fans to whom he sold 'the dream'. Their unwavering belief and support has been left to look futile, and his reputation as an honest individual can never totally be repaired. Players that he wants to bring in wherever he manages in Britain will surely think twice before signing, as Stephen Dobbie and Nathan Dyer might have wished they had.
When Celtic approached the Swans for Martinez's services, the overwhelming feeling of foreboding was subsidised by a reluctanct acceptance that Celtic could offer him something Swansea could never - Silverware, Champions League football, 60,000 fans, and, in the future, potentially winning the English Premier League.
While Wigan do play in a division higher than Swansea, they have gained a reputation for being a 'selling' club, a club who buy players cheaply, allow them to prosper at the club, before they move on for a higher fee, to a bigger and better club. By and large, Wigan's stay in the Premier league has been one long battle against relegation, with little sign of development of the club beyond it's means. The club is funded by Dave Whelan, and is not currently a self-sustained club like Swansea City or Celtic.
Whether it proves to be a shrewd decision by Martinez or not remains to be seen, but football, the beautiful yet cruel game it is unerringly provides poetry, and do not be surprised should Wigan or Swansea cross paths in the foreseeable future, or indeed pass eachother between the Championship and the Premier League. It may yet prove that his career stalls in the same way Robinson and Trundle's has, and if so it can only be hoped that he recognises the mistake he made in the way he conducted himself at Swansea City.
So what now for Swansea City? It can go one of two ways. The fans, players and board alike can all revel in the misery of the situation and mourn the loss of the man responsible for the recent success of the club. Or, they can all dig their heels in and say, we are Swansea City, we are 7 places away from the greatest league in the world, and one man's departure will not change our destination.
However, whether the new man at the helm be Steve Coppell, Gary Speed, or Chris Coleman, it is imperative that everyone gets behind him, so the club can continue to enjoy football in the Championship and indeed progress to the Premier League. Because with or without Senor Martinez, Swansea City has proved that it is potentially a Premier League club.
Swansea 'Til I Die
Thanks to Dominic O'Shea for the article. You can read more of his articles on his website here
Date:Friday June 5 2009
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