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Mixed years for Martinez

By David Dulin

Roberto Martinez
Martinez joined Swansea City from Walsall in January 2003

Five years ago, Swansea City were 90 minutes away from dropping out of the Football League.

But now they are celebrating promotion to the Championship for the first time in 24 years as League One top dogs.

Roberto Martinez was a key player in their survival battle which ended with a 4-2 win over Hull on the final day of the 2002/03 season.

And now in his first season as the club's manager he has led the Swans to glory.

The Spanish supremo looks back at some of his key moments in those five years.

2002/03 SEASON

Supporters celebrated after staying in the Football League
Supporters celebrated after staying in the Football League

Martinez joined Swansea City on 31 January 2003 as manager Brian Flynn looked to build a squad capable of staying in the Football League and was installed as club captain.

On the move from Walsall to South Wales:
"I came because of the battle. When Brian Flynn told me he wanted to get out of the bottom two by playing football, I was really excited.

"Since I came to Britain in 1995, I always had to fight really hard to play my own way. I always believed in playing good football.

"Being in the team that were fighting to avoid the drop out of the Football League was an eye-opener and a wake-up call for the whole club."

On the Hull City game:
"Winning that game against Hull was the turning point in our history.

"It was a game that had absolutely everything. For 20 minutes we were out of the league.

"But going into half time at 2-2 after being behind was a huge relief and in the second half, we showed tremendous attitude.

"It was a special game in the history of Swansea."

2003/04 SEASON

Brian Flynn was not smiling in March 2004
Brian Flynn was not smiling in March 2004

After winning the survival battle, hopes were high for the new season, but as Christmas approached things started turning sour and by March 2004, Brian Flynn was sacked.

On more upheaval at the Vetch:
"It was difficult because we started the season really well but we couldn't maintain the level of expectation and the level of performance, which was disappointing.

"It is always a shame when you lose a manager but it is something that you have to get on with."

2004/05 SEASON TO 2005/06 SEASON

Martinez had a difficult time under Kenny Jackett
Martinez had a difficult time under Kenny Jackett

Kenny Jackett had taken the reins at the Vetch and in his first two seasons, he led the club out of League Two and to the brink of Championship only to lose on penalties in a play-off against Barnsley.

During this time, the Swans left the Vetch for the Liberty Stadium and also won the Football League Trophy. But it was not all joy for Martinez.

On life under Kenny Jackett:
"I have always been professional with my managers and have always given everything.

"When a manager makes it clear he doesn't want you in the club, it is difficult and you are fighting against that.

"In football, you've got a lot of different mentalities of how the game should be played and different philosophies of play.

"I had a long period where I probably was one of the outfield players that he fielded more often than not - but that was down to me wanting to play and earning the place.

"Given the number of games that I played under him, I'm very proud of that achievement.

"But obviously every manager has their own ideas and they want to have their own players and play their own way."

On being dropped as captain:
"It would have been easy to turn around and say: 'I'm not wanted here and I'll go somewhere else' but I knew I could give a lot to the football club and I wanted to give a lot.

"I knew it was a very important period and we were going in the right direction."

On the play-off final:
"It was a very good season for the first six months and then we ended up in the play-off final.

"It was a bit of an anti-climax and it's in the nature of being a footballer."

On being told his time at Swansea was coming to an end:
"When you are shown that could be a possibility, it didn't come as a shock.

"It was a sad moment because I had been fighting against that for a long time but I had to move on to the next challenge and that's what I did (signing for Chester City)".

FROM CHESTER BACK TO SWANSEA

Martinez's return boosted the Swans promotion hopes, but Blackpool soon ended them
Martinez's return boosted the Swans promotion hopes, but Blackpool soon ended them

Kenny Jackett walked out on Swansea City on 15 February 2007 stating he had lost support from certain areas. Dean Saunders was hotly tipped to take over.

But the Swansea City board had different ideas, taking a gamble on Martinez who had no managerial experience.

On taking the Swansea job:
"My mind was about trying to get into the play-offs with Chester because I had another 14 months in my playing career. Becoming a manager was not really in my mind.

"Once Swansea City knock on your door, that's a different scenario. It meant giving up my life as a player, but I couldn't say no. I would only have only given up playing for Swansea - I had a special affiliation with the club.

"I knew the mentality and philosophy of the fans would marry perfectly well with mine when it came to how I wanted the football club to play.

"It was a very brave decision to choose me. All credit to Huw Jenkins and the board. I knew I was very capable, otherwise I would never have taken the job.

"He played a large part in me making the decision of making the transition from player to a manager."

2007/08 SEASON

Not many managers cap off their first season winning the League One title
Not many managers cap off their first season winning the League One title

The gamble paid off and Swansea City are promoted to the Championship playing a stylish brand of passing, flowing football.

On his achievement:
"It has been a complete turn around in the way we want to play and way we want to win football games.

"The players have taken the responsibility of wanting to be successful.

"As a manger, it is my best achievement obviously because it is a very short career. But in football, it is quite clear that if you work hard you get the rewards.

"Promotion was the most important thing to take the club onto the next level, but you don't get many chances to win a title as a club or as a player."

On the supporters:
"You can feel everyone is happy and you can see a lot of smiles on people's faces and everyone wants to show that on the streets.

"It took 24 years to get where we are and you could see the fans' faces at Gillingham and what it means to them. Everyone should be very, very proud.

"It has been a relief. They deserve it."

THE PREMIER LEAGUE?

"I think everyone should have a dream in football.

"It could take five, 10 or 15 years but we should be as professional as we can and work hard on a daily basis with that in mind.

"If you haven't got dreams in football, you are in the wrong business."


see also
Swans dream came true - Martinez
20 Apr 08 |  Swansea City
Swansea champions despite defeat
18 Apr 08 |  League One
Martinez set to sign new contract
17 Apr 08 |  Swansea City
Swansea style delights Martinez
13 Apr 08 |  Swansea City
Martinez is the toast of Swansea
13 Apr 08 |  Swansea City
The Swans are going up!
12 Apr 08 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
24 Dec 06 |  Wales


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