The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Dan Barnes

GARY Roberts went from be­ing one of the shin­ing lights among Portsmouth’s band of pro­mo­tion he­roes to

per­sona non grata in the blink of an eye – and he’s still scratch­ing his head as to how it all hap­pened.

The goalscor­ing mid­fielder may have found a new home at Wi­gan, safe un­der the wing of man­ager Paul Cook at a third dif­fer­ent club, but the man­ner of his “mas­sively dis­re­spect­ful” de­par­ture from Frat­ton Park, where he had found a happy home, still smarts.

Fresh from a se­cond suc­ces­sive ten-goal cam­paign, that had cul­mi­nated in Cook’s Pom­pey win­ning the League Two ti­tle, Roberts ar­rived back for pre-sea­son this sum­mer to dis­cover his face firmly didn’t fit un­der new boss Kenny Jackett. The 33-year-old was ban­ished to train away from the first team.

Last month, he was forced to ne­go­ti­ate his re­lease from Portsmouth be­fore sub­se­quently ar­riv­ing at Wi­gan on a free trans­fer, but why did Jackett cast him aside so swiftly?

“I couldn’t even give you a rea­son why but he had me and Michael Smith (who joined Bury on the fi­nal day of the sum­mer trans­fer win­dow) train­ing sep­a­rately and made it clear that he didn’t want me there,” said Roberts, who has also been pro­moted with Hud­der­s­field in 2012 and Ch­ester­field in 2014.

“The kids were in school and I loved my time there, so I wasn’t look­ing to move, but it just came out of the blue that Kenny Jackett didn’t want me.

“I was train­ing away from the first team, which I stuck to for a lit­tle bit. I thought I’d get through it and hope­fully get a chance, but he made it clear I wouldn’t get a chance.


“I just thought it was mas­sively dis­re­spect­ful. I did it for three or four weeks and, in the end, I was los­ing pa­tience and my head was go­ing. “I think Kenny Jackett has done it with a few play­ers over the years, so it didn’t re­ally sur­prise me that he did it to me. “I couldn’t take it per­son­ally against Portsmouth. It was just the man­ager’s de­ci­sion to treat play­ers like he did – that’s just the type of man he is. “It was a new man­ager that wanted his own things and he thought the best way was to get me out of the club. So be it. That’s his choice.” Two years at Portsmouth have clearly left an im­pres­sion on Roberts, with the south coast city be­witch­ing him, much in the fashion of his home town of Liver­pool.

He even hopes that Pom­pey en­joy a suc­cess­ful tilt at a se­cond suc­ces­sive pro­mo­tion in League One this sea­son – but not at the ex­pense of his new side Wi­gan.

Roberts may be back play­ing un­der his old men­tor Cook – the duo pre­vi­ously team­ing up at Ch­ester­field and Pom­pey – but in­sists his move was not a case of re­ceiv­ing a hand-out un­der the old pals’ act as he com­petes for a start­ing berth with tal­ents such as 23-year-old Nick Pow­ell.

“Once your old man­ager comes in for you at the last minute, it’s a no-brainer to go there,” said the Latics new-boy.


“Wi­gan have got a re­ally strong squad and he said, ‘If you want to play for me again, it’s go­ing to be tough get­ting in the team’.

“At my last cou­ple of clubs, I’ve been a big sign­ing, so this is a bit dif­fer­ent. I’m at a club where I’ve got to prove my­self.

“It’s a new chal­lenge. I’m more ex­cited about it than any­one else I could have signed for.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

GOOD TIMES: Gary Roberts cel­e­brates in his Pom­pey days In­sets: Kenny Jackett, left, and Paul Cook, be­low

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