FootballOpinion

The Truth About Loyalty

News is coming through this lunchtime that Roberto Martinez wants to leave Wigan, shortly after leading them to both the biggest triumph of his career (an FA Cup win) and a biggest relative failure of his short and impressive career (relegation from the Premier League).

It’s easy to look at this as the manager leaving a sinking ship, but the infrastructure will still be pretty good, and Wigan have a number of players who can play ‘the Wigan way’. On the other hand, the next boss will have to work in the shadow left by Martinez’ reputation – he’s almost certainly both the most successful manager in the club’s history, as well as the creator of their most stylish football.

You’d think, on paper, that leaving last summer would have been better for the club, but would it? The new boss would have to take over a club that had punched above it’s weight to a degree, with many people doubting whether Martinez’s record of style and substance could be matched. A sense of decay, of internal division, would almost be inevitable… but the new manager next season will take over a club who have faith in their ability to return to the top flight, and who realise that changes will need to be made, changes that may take time to pay off. So which option is the better really?

Roberto Martinez - The Smiling Spaniard
Roberto Martinez – The Smiling Spaniard

At the other end of the spectrum, Pep Guardiola will inherit a finely tuned Bayern Munich squad, one that has won the league and European Cup, dropping only 11 league points, and will probably be the first German team to win the treble. And, of course, his rivals’ star player is on the way.
But the pressure will be enormous – how can he top his predecessor?

Alex Ferguson has left Manchester United on a high, but David Moyes will need to deal with underperforming wingers, a dissatisfied Wayne Rooney, and a central midfield where only Michael Carrick is anywhere close to being ‘world class’ on a consistent basis. He’ll need to make significant changes, while being careful not to disrupt the winning mentality that’s dragged his new club to titles they shouldn’t have won several times.

So, when’s the least disruptive time to leave? Any option is fraught wih dangers, not just for the manager, but for the club, and the pressures placd on the new man. That’s the truth about loyalty.

This article first appeared at SportLobster at midday on Tuesday 28th.

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