Roberto Martinez says the chance to pit his wits against Garry Monk, the captain during his tenure at Swansea City, gives Sunday’s FA Cup tie an extra ‘twist’.
The pair were teammates in south Wales for two seasons before Martinez left to wind down his playing career at Chester City in 2006.
The Spaniard returned to Swansea as manager in February 2007 and he recalls the decision he made to keep Monk at the Liberty Stadium following a serious long-term injury sustained by the defender.
Monk has remained with the Swans since, playing over 250 games for the club, and was put in temporary charge earlier this month following the sacking of former boss Michael Laudrup.
Martinez said: “Garry Monk was my first big decision as a manager in terms of shaping a squad. I had to decide to give him a new contract and keep him at the club after a very difficult injury when he ruptured his cruciate ligament.
“I built a new squad around him as I knew that he was the perfect captain and that he would keep that role for the future, knowing that we were going to bring many different foreigners and talents. It’s a nice twist and it will be a nice moment to be up against Garry.”
Monk has recouped four points from his first two games as Swansea first-team coach.
He secured a 3-0 derby win over Cardiff City last Saturday and followed this up with a creditable 1-1 draw at Stoke City on Wednesday.
And knowing his protégé so well, Martinez has been unsurprised by the start the 34-year-old has made to his management career.
He said: “Garry had that leadership and that DNA of being able to control a group. I think being a captain at Swansea, where the club is so involved in the community, it prepares you.
“He has had time in the last few months, with not playing any football, to have a look around from a distance and put his thoughts together and develop a good method of work.
“The Welsh derby can be as intense as it gets for a new manager coming into one of the south Wales clubs. It was a really good start and then they remained unbeaten against Stoke in another really difficult game.
“It’s showing that this group are reacting well and are in a very good moment of the season, so we are going to expect a difficult and tough encounter.”
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