TALKING SPORT - Plight has not dented Martinez’s enthusiasm

Manchester City's Mario Balotelli
Manchester City's Mario Balotelli
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I DON’T know how he does it, but Roberto Martinez was his usual bubbly mixture of positivity and optimism when I popped into the training ground this morning for our weekly chat.

Despite the weekend shambles at QPR, the gaffer remains utterly convinced the club can and will get out of its current predicament.

And although it admittedly doesn’t look too good at present, I don’t think all is lost just yet.

One look at the fixture list will show that, after next Tuesday’s tough trip to Tottenham, Latics face the following fixtures in February and March: Everton, Bolton, Aston Villa, Swansea, Norwich, West Brom, Liverpool, Stoke.

By my reckoning there’s more than enough points there to ensure Latics are in there fighting come May.

DID he or didn’t he?

For me, Mario Balotelli deliberately stamped on Scott Parker’s head on Sunday and should have been sent off.

But there are some in the office who hand-on-heart believe it may have been purely accidental.

They clearly need to go to Specsavers.

As convinced as I am, maybe we’ll never know 100 per cent. But what the Balotelli incident does illustrate perfectly is just why video interference during games should never, ever be introduced.

Goal-line technology is fine, because it’s a black and white issue – did the ball cross the line or not?

But football can never have a ‘video ref’ for anything else because so much is open for interpretation.

It was the same with Maynor Figueroa’s hand-ball against Man City – a sending off or not? I would say no, but some thought yes. Vincent Kompany’s tackle against United – a sending off or not? This time I thought yes, but just as many thought no. Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer. But they’re certainly not issues that can be decided on by officials in the stands within a few seconds.

AT first, I laughed at the idea – Super League’s new sponsor isn’t paying any money for the privilege!

What next, I thought. The RFL paying a company to carry its branding!?

But then, when I read the details of Stobart’s link-up, I couldn’t help think it was a brave – and clever – idea.

It’s no secret that rugby league struggles with its nation-wide profile. And having the likes of Sam Tomkins and fellow England star Rangi Chase (sorry, couldn’t help it) on the side of Stobart lorries, travelling the country day in, day out, will only help strengthen the game’s profile.

Will it make fans ‘darn sarf’ rush out and watch a game?

Probably not. The same way I don’t rush out and buy a Coke when I see its logo.

But if it widens Super League appeal, then it has to be positive. And good on the clubs for accepting the PR benefits when it must have been tempting to take the cash on offer from a betting firm instead.