Four years ago, our beloved Wigan Athletic was in the hands of a man who thought shopping at Harrods was the be all and end all of football. That man was of course was Steve Bruce, many fans of this club still believe he was the right man for the club. Mid-table safety and a chance of the Europa League, what more could you wish for?
The truth is a dreadful thing, and in terms of Steve Bruce's reign at this club, it is filled with a large wage bill and pilling debts. So as in that January we signed Charles N'Zogbia and Ben Watson in what was the new generation for Wigan Athletic, the club was slowly pilling on the red.
Four years down the line and we made a £4.3 million profit, with arguably the best squad we have ever had. Premier League safety may not be guaranteed yet for next season, but we have financial security. The club no rising strength and strength for a long term future, now that is the key.
When Roberto Martinez took over, he talked about the long term life of the club. He wasn't talking of signings in the coming weeks, or that he was going to drive for top 4. Mr. Martinez was looking to change the clubs philosophy, build a club for the long term. He dreamed a youth academy in Wigan to rival the best in the country, he saw them rivaling Barcelona with their technical skill.
And he still dreams.
It will take a generation to change a clubs fortune; to transform them from minnows to footballing royalty. Yet look what a man with the drive can do. Sir Alex did it in Manchester, why cannot Martinez do it in Wigan?
Well the first big step is now on the horizon as the club unveiled their plans for the new youth academy at the current training facility at Christopher Park. The first team will now move to Wrightington. The plans are grand in the hope of building an infrastructure which can be future proof.
Full size indoor pitch, outdoor 3G pitch, then 6 full size grass pitches and that's just for playing the football on. Plans also include new permanent structures to be able to house planning rooms, as well as offices for full time youth staff. Then on top of that, there will be a fully equip gym with modern changing facilities and medical room.
The idea to gain category one youth status, and put our young lads on par with the big guns of the country and the world. With better facilities come more players; with more players come better players. And the pieces fall into place.
The long term plan is to produce more talent, like the young lads coming into the squad. Callum McManaman, Daniel Redmond, Lee Nicholls, Robert Kiernan, Lee Mustoe and Roman Golobart are all players who have played as part of our youth squads at the clubs.
People many question Martinez, yet I cannot think of many managers in the world who would rather have money invested in the building of such facilities instead of buying new players. The cost for the build could be in the region of £16 million. That kind of money could buy three quality players. Yet in the longer term, it could build us a squad of homegrown talent.