Whelan gives backing to Martinez

Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez and chariman Dave Whelan
Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez and chariman Dave Whelan
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DAVE Whelan has reiterated his unwavering support towards Roberto Martinez – and has backed the boss to lead Wigan Athletic out of the Premier League mire.

Latics slumped to 19th spot in the table after crashing 3-1 at home to Bolton, and are above rock-bottom Blackburn only on goal difference.

The side were booed off the field at half-time and full-time at the weekend, with only Ali Al Habsi standing between them and a real battering.

Having been in charge for the best part of two decades, though, Whelan has no intention of reaching for the panic button.

And he has every faith that the man he brought to Wigan as both a player and manager remains the right man to lead the club forward.

“That’s never been an issue for me, never an issue at all,” Whelan told the Observer.

“It’s more a question of getting the breaks, and getting the right lads on the park.

“Roberto is Wigan Athletic through and through – so let’s back him.

“He’s the manager, he’s the only one who can turn it round – and he will.

“Now is not the time for excuses. It’s about looking forward, and getting stuck in to the job in hand.

“Roberto’s working very hard on the training ground, trying to get the confidence back into the lads so they believe in themselves. And sometimes even one win can do that for you.

“We’ve been down there before and what we’ve got to do is concentrate, pull together, remain a team and play our way out of it.

“We’ve done it for the last six seasons – and we can do it again.”

Wigan’s latest defeat to their arch-rivals was up there – or down there – with their worst performances of the campaign.

All three goals came from basic errors from experienced international players, continuing a calamitous campaign where more than half of the 14 goals conceded would have Alan Hansen tearing his hair out on the ‘Match of the Day’ sofa.

However, the Wigan chairman is confident that once the side eradicates the individual errors that are killing them, they’ll start to move up the ladder.

“It’s too easy to criticise individuals, and I won’t be doing that,” Whelan added.

“It’s how it goes at times – but you can’t make mistakes like we’ve been doing in the Premier League and expect to get away with it.

“I said to the Bolton chairman after Saturday that Christmas only comes once a year normally, and it had come three times to them that day.

“We have to do better than that. No question about it.

“Because if we don’t, we’ll go down.”

Whelan also confirmed there will be no deviation from Martinez’s continental style of playing, despite criticism from some sections of the fanbase.

“We won’t change tactics, I don’t see that happening,” Whelan pledged.

“Roberto is absolutely committed to the way he wants to play, playing from back to front, and I am absolutely committed to that too.

“What we need it for the fans to stay with us and to get behind us.

“We are Wigan Athletic, a small team in the Premier League, but we’ve been up there for seven seasons now.

“Our supporters should be so thankful we’ve been there for so long, and be doing all they can to keep us there.

“We need every bit of help to keep us there, and I would ask for the supporters to shout that extra bit louder to encourage the team to greater heights.

“They are a wonderful set of supporters – and we need them now as much as we ever have.”