Huw Jenkins deserves 'enormous credit' - Roberto Martinez

By Gareth VincentBBC Sport Wales
Roberto Martinez and Huw Jenkins
Roberto Martinez (pictured with Huw Jenkins) was Swansea City manager from 2007-2009

Former Swansea City boss Roberto Martinez believes the club has lost the man behind one of sport's "most powerful stories" with the resignation of Huw Jenkins.

Jenkins stood down as chairman after 17 years, saying he found it very difficult to fight for a club he loved, but could no longer control.

His decision was welcomed by fans who had called for Jenkins' resignation in the wake of the American takeover, relegation to the Championship and disappointing transfer dealings.

But Martinez, who has gone on to take charge of the Belgian national team, believes Jenkins deserves "enormous credit".

"I think looking back at what Huw Jenkins has done for Swansea City, it is one of the most powerful and impressive stories not just in football but in sport," he told BBC Sport Wales.

"Huw Jenkins was always looking for the longer term, to do things in a different manner and to achieve more than other clubs without investing the same finances.

"The results are there - (it's) an incredible, inspiring story for other football clubs in the land and in Europe to see Swansea City with an incredible footballing identity and achieving things like going to Wembley, promotions, being able to win a major trophy, going into Europe and staying in the Premier League."

Martinez is encouraging Swansea fans to "look through the pain" and back on memories which he believes happened because of Jenkins' vision.

"He deserves to get that warmth from everyone and a big thank you," he said.

Swansea were battling to retain Football League status in the early days of Jenkins' tenure, yet they would climb to the top flight and win a first major trophy - the 2013 League Cup - under his stewardship.

But he came under pressure after Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan bought a controlling stake in the club in 2016 and after relegation from the Premier League last season.

Martinez admits Jenkins' resignation came as a shock.

"It's one of those bits of news you don't want to hear," he said.

Former midfielder Martinez was one of a number key players Swansea brought in during the early years of the Jenkins era.

Swansea's Lenny Johnrose, Roberto Martinez and Leon Britton celebrate
Roberto Martinez made 122 appearances for the Swans

Jenkins then took the bold decision to make Martinez manager in 2007, a move which proved inspired as the Spaniard's team romped to the League One title and established a style of football which became known as 'The Swansea Way'.

"Huw Jenkins had that capacity to see things before they happened. He believed in projects, he believed in a way of playing and he believed in long-term, sustained success," Martinez said.

"In my case he was someone who gave me belief. He was always able to help me with any ideas or our football philosophy."

Though Swansea dropped out of the Premier League after seven years, Martinez is convinced Jenkins has laid the foundations which will help them return, including the appointment of new manager Graham Potter.

"You look at the training ground, the Liberty Stadium. This is a very solid project which means you can go through relegation and promotion without affecting the real value of Swansea City.

"That solid model in the club will allow Swansea to fight for promotion and to get back to the Premier League, I have no doubt about that."

Swansea have lost 19 senior players since relegation with the club looking to cut costs.

That has made life difficult for Potter, who left Swedish club Ostersund to take on the challenge of reviving Swansea in June, 2018.

Former Swansea manager John Toshack says Huw Jenkins will be sorely missed after stepping down as chairman

Martinez has known the current Swansea manager for more than a decade through his former assistant Graeme Jones, who played with Potter at Boston United.

"Graham came to a few sessions when we were at Swansea and after that at Wigan and Everton," Martinez explained.

"I have followed his career very closely. I always have admiration for people who are prepared to go abroad and work.

"What he did in Sweden with Ostersund was very impressive and I think now he is ready to bring all those skills and experiences into Swansea City.

"It's a challenging season when you get relegated from the Premier League. He has a completely new group of players and everyone has to be patient.

"I know of Graham's resilience, his identity and his footballing visions. He fits extremely well with what Swansea City needs."

Swansea's successes during the Jenkins era came largely as a result of the possession game introduced by Martinez and part of Potter's challenge is to restore that type of approach.

"The biggest challenge now for Graham is to try to get the players to have a really strong belief in that way of playing," Martinez said.

"This is an important moment, laying new foundations with players who are going to stay at the club for many years.

"That continuity is essential if you are going to achieve things other clubs can't."

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