ROBBO: I WASN’T RIGHT FIT FOR JACKETT
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.”
GOOD TIMES: Gary Roberts celebrates in his Pompey days Insets: Kenny Jackett, left, and Paul Cook, below