Portsmouth V Wigan : Hart To Heart
Well, who wants to take over Paul Hart's position at struggling Portsmouth? Thought not. I'm surprised that Pompey are struggling though. They've been somewhat unfortunate not to get more points than they currently have though their win at Wolves was much desired and rewarded. A point at Hull isn't bad either. Any away point in the league is decent, no matter where and Hull have turned over decent teams of late.
What Paul Hart needs now is some heart from his players and a drubbing of Stoke can only intensify the Portsmouth first team into action. However, they come up against a resilient Latics side and despite the fact they're still inconsistent away from home, Burnley found out to their cost that Latics can never be underestimated. However, disruptions to the Latics back line may mean that their confidence is somewhat shattered in that respect, but Martinez knows how to get the confidence back.
However, Roberto Martinez isn't one to shy away from anything and after the Spanish Media tried to get Martinez into hot water, Roberto's rung around all the accused and apologised though in my view, it was needless. Its Allardyce's statements which have caused controversy - Roberto never opened his mouth in the first place so why should he keep his mouth closed or 'shut' as Allardyce put it? Martinez made some innocent comments blown totally out of proportion - if I were in Roberto's shoes, I'd be following this closely and maybe be making a case for something even more, but Roberto's probably and perhaps wisely, going to let it blow over as everyone else has done so. At least so far.
Back to the game, well, Portsmouth don't have the greatest of home records against Wigan Athletic. They've got some decent wins under their belt but Wigan have recorded 2 wins at Fratton Park out of a possible 5. The meetings between Portsmouth and Wigan are a mixed bag, admittedly. Portsmouth, though, have won at our ground at least twice so its swings and roundabouts as far as the form book is concerned.
The home form of Portsmouth is not good. However, that's not down to the inability of the team or the manager - luck has played a huge part in their downfall of late and they've been unlucky, there's no denying that. However, a real confidence boost was the demolition of Stoke City. That's something Paul Hart will be keen to bring into Saturday's game. However, he must overcome Roberto's tactical mastery and that won't be easy.
For me, really, this is make or break for Paul Hart. Lose on Saturday and its an uphill struggle for the south coast club. I personally like Pompey but the struggles are there for all to see and I do think that their squad, despite being decent, isn't enough to cope, with all respect, with the demand of the higher quality that the league has to offer in better and more experienced teams. I personally believe Pompey will be relegated but their survival would be a shock to quite a lot and I'd love to see Pompey stay up despite the massive odds that currently are stacked against them.
Well.... the make or break time has arrived. Roberto Martinez knows how to cope in the league and his tactical skills are slowly beginning to emerge and also, Martinez is becoming serious league material in tactical mastery. Paul Hart is a nice chap though personally, I never could take this chap seriously as a manager after watching them only draw 0-0 with Basingstoke but he has a massive job to do. Winning on Saturday for them would only be a start. I fear an uphill struggle for Portsmouth and Michael Brown may rue the day he left Wigan. As for the Latics, a great win at Burnley may instill confidence but the disruption to the team following injury may prove a distraction. Now or never versus a team oozing confidence. A difficult one to call but it might be a hard fought battle at Fratton Park. The smart money's on a high scoring draw.
Portsmouth 2 Wigan 2
ROB'S FINAL THOUGHT
I'm really surprised that Roberto Martinez continues to be attacked for what was a simple thing taken out of context by the spanish media. Credit to Martinez for setting the record straight but Sam Allardyce himself should be careful what he says, too, because for me, it was very harsh considering Roberto had done nothing wrong and if he had, why would he ring around to all of the managers and try to set the record straight if he had done nothing wrong?
See you next time for Wigan's home game against Fulham.