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No bull, Martinez has got what it takes for Prem, says Whelan.

Byline: STEPHEN CARRINGTON

WIGAN manager Roberto Martinez was described as a bullfighter by chairman Dave Whelan when he first arrived at the club as a player more than a decade ago.

So it should be fitting that the brand of football his teams play is all about flair and performance.

The Spaniard was one of Whelan's 'Three Amigos' - the others were Jesus Seba and Isidro Diaz - who made such an impact when they joined the Latics in 1995 with the club in the old third division.

After a six-year Latics playing career he has now returned to the club to replace Steve Bruce, the new Sunderland boss, having established himself as one of the Football League's most promising and enterprising managers.

Martinez received great credit for the way he got Swansea City playing attractive, flowing football down at the Liberty, but the plaudits will be tenfold if he manages a similar thing in the Barclays Premier League while keeping Wigan competitive.

Bruce's first rule of management was always to make his sides difficult to beat and then try to inject some match-winning flair.

Martinez inherits a squad which should still have that resilient mentality but, after the departure of winger Antonio Valencia to Manchester United, he has the chance to add his own creative players.

And he intends to stick to his principles - many of which were established during his time as a Wigan player - even if he is embarking on his maiden campaign in the top flight.

"You develop your own method with your own experiences. Since 1995 I have been developing," said the 35-year-old Spaniard.

"Being a technical player not many people thought I could play in the lower leagues, but I survived for a long time."

Whelan has no doubts he has the right man for the job, insisting Martinez was his only choice once Bruce departed.

"I will never sack Roberto. He is here for three years.

If we go down in that time Roberto will go down with us," said the Latics chairman.

"I believe in this lad totally.

I am going to stay with him. I have worked with him and know how dedicated he is to football.

"I brought him here in 1995 and he revolutionised Wigan. He excited our supporters as he was so skilful.

"When the 'Three Amigos' turned up, none of them spoke English. We were losing 1-0 to Runcorn in the FA Cup and Roberto scored. He took on the guise of a bullfighter.

"I have continued to follow his career with interest. What he has done since has been fantastic.

"He has his own ideas and I like his ideas." Martinez admits his arrival in Wigan as a player brought mixed feelings.

"The people in Wigan are special. The accent was a bit difficult but the friendship we found will be with me for the rest of my life," he said.

"Everything was closed at 5pm. We used to get up from a siesta and everything was shut, but we still enjoyed ourselves." Whether he will enjoy himself second time around in the Premier League remains to be seen, but the former Real Zaragoza midfielder refuses to be daunted by the test ahead.

"Intimidation is when you are in League Two and want to get the ball on the ground," he said.

"Being involved in the best league in the world is a great challenge."
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 9, 2009
Words:567
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