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Parker: How did FC Dallas get here?

FC Dallas
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Villa Park waves farewell to Prem

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By ESPN Staff

Martinez: Whelan is key for Wigan

Manager Roberto Martinez believes Wigan's secret weapon in their bid to haul themselves off the bottom of the Premier League this weekend will be chairman Dave Whelan.

• Wigan blog: It's now or never

After a promising start to the season, Wigan's form has collapsed. The Latics lost their seventh game on the trot against Fulham on Saturday to hit the foot of the table, and unless that run comes to an end against Wolves at Molineux on Sunday, Martinez's players will find themselves starting to get marooned.

Despite the gloomy situation, Whelan has already backed Martinez this week, insisting the former Swansea boss is not in danger of the sack. And Martinez has now returned the compliment, claiming Whelan, with his vast footballing experience as a player and chairman, will end up being a significant ally in the battle to grab that long-awaited win.

"The chairman at this club gives us direction," Martinez said. "He has not felt the need to speak to me this week. In fact, we have spoken less than we normally do. The fact is he has such a calming influence on everyone at the club. He knows football. He understands the game. He has played at every single level. He has done the same as chairman.

"He is desperate to see the team winning, as we all are. He is such a great motivator. He will have a real influence on Sunday."

There does appear to be a strong chairman-manager bond, which first emerged two years ago when Martinez was lured away from Swansea to succeed Steve Bruce at the DW Stadium.

As a member of the "Three Amigos" with which Whelan launched his bid to take Wigan from the basement of the Football League into the top tier, Martinez had an affinity with Latics few could match.

Even this summer, after successfully preserving Wigan's top-flight status with a last-day win at Stoke, Martinez refused to turn his back on the club and join Aston Villa. It is a decision the 38-year-old could be forgiven for regretting give the current situation, but he maintains the right choice was made.

"You cannot think like that," he said. "It wasn't a decision based on football. It was a decision based on loyalty and to repay the support other people showed in me. That was a clear choice. Maybe sometimes people find it hard to see the positives because of the lack of results recently, but behind the scenes this club is making big strides forward.

"Now we want to make sure we get positive results. I never doubt we will achieve that. But that is the real challenge we have just now."

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