Swansea's first home fixture as a Premier League club is against none other than Wigan Athletic; storybook stuff from the fixtures computer which will see former Swans stalwart Roberto Martinez return to the Liberty Stadium for the first time since he followed the gold-paved road north with half the backroom staff and the team's top scorer in tow. Some Swans fans have threatened, playfully or otherwise, to throw pig's heads and the like at the former boss. But does Martinez deserve a warmer welcome?
I would offer a resounding yes. Of course he does. It was Martinez who drew up the blueprint for Swansea's highly praised style of play. Martinez who brought in key players like Rangel and Dobbie. Martinez who basically got the ball rolling. No doubt there are still Swans fans who live to see their former captain falter, have scrawled "el judas" next to newspaper photographs augmented with drawn-on devil horns and missing teeth. It's like losing a lover, the headlines hitting the breakfast table with all the weight of divorce papers, egg on your face for ever believing.
But after the initial pain and name calling has subsided, after the bitterness has receded to a dull ache in the part of your mind previously reserved for those rare, rare losses to Cardiff, even after the awkward rebound relationship with a Portuguese waiter, it becomes apparent that maybe the Swans are better off.
That awkward rebound relationship with the unfairly unpopular Paulo Sousa (says the man who just a moment ago referred to the Portuguese great as a "waiter") taught the Swans how to defend, after Martinez had first taught them how to attack. Brendan Rodgers has shown the Swans how to do both at the same time. Would Swansea have been promoted without the under-rated contribution of Martinez' successor? Or the ongoing man-management master class of Rodgers' stewardship? I'm not so sure.
When Martinez does come back to the Liberty, it'll be just like seeing that ex again, with the new partner, only it doesn't hurt any more because you've moved on; Swansea have progressed, things are better now, and whilst there's no denying Martinez' influence in the scheme of things, there's also no point in berating him any longer for making a decision which ultimately led Swansea to Brendan Rodgers and the Promised Land.
This has the potential to be the game of the season, and you won't hear that said about fixtures involving Wigan very often.
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