sport

Martinez: Whelan key for Latics

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez believes Dave Whelan is key to the club's good times.

After delivering a typically blunt assessment of his team's performance in the aftermath of their home defeat by Swansea last weekend, then confirming he would be demanding answers of Martinez on Monday, there were some who feared for the likeable Spaniard's future.

In the end, Martinez's explanation that so many of his players had to embark on lengthy journeys to complete international commitments was sufficient for Whelan to be brought back onside.

Peace restored, Martinez once again heaped praise on the man who bankrolled Wigan's startling ascent from League Two to the Premier League in the space of just eight seasons.

"I remember when I arrived in 1995," said Martinez. "We were in Division Three at the time. When you think of the experienced Wigan has had since then, including seven years in the top flight, the chairman is the reason for that."

As Martinez discovered last weekend, Whelan is not afraid of delivering a few home truths when required.

However, in a week when the alarming inconsistencies of Flavio Briatore's tenure in charge of QPR were laid-bare in a BBC documentary and Andre Villas-Boas' exit left Chelsea searching for their ninth manager in eight years, Whelan's status as both a successful businessman and a former professional footballer with Blackburn and Crewe is an obvious benefit.

"It doesn't matter what position you are in, if you need to make big decisions you must have all the information," said Martinez.

"You need a long-term project and a short-term ambition.

"The chairman understands every angle of the club, from the business side of it to what is happening on the pitch and how the players can be affected.

"He was on the pitch for many years. That is a real strength.

"He has the vision and we follow his ambition and his thoughts."

In their Monday meeting, Whelan and Martinez reached agreement about the folly of midweek international friendlies.

Whilst it could be argued an over-reliance on South American players has created the problem, the Latics were unfortunate that what should have been a winnable fixture against a side that were playing in the Championship 12 months ago should turn into a stamina test.

Martinez reported even keeper Ali Al Habsi felt the strain of two long-haul flights, whilst Victor Moses and Mohamed Diame were amongst those left out of his starting line-up.

Providing there are no unforeseen hitches, the February and August friendlies will be ditched when FIFA announce the international calendar that takes effect from 2014.

However, Martinez feels action should be taken immediately.

"That is too late," he said.

"I don't think it is fair. Think about any other profession, would you ask an employee to travel seven hours and as soon as they land, have to start work? If they did, would they be at their best? It is impossible.

"Footballers rely on their physical strength and ability to do their job. It is incredible we are putting the players in those circumstances.

"I cannot speak up as much as I want because it looks like I am trying to find an excuse for the performance last weekend but clearly it is something that should never happen."