Whelan optimistic over Martinez
Roberto Martinez is Wigan Athletic's prime target to assume the reins at the JJB Stadium, and chairman Dave Whelan is hopeful he can persuade Swansea City to part with their manager. Steve Bruce's departure to Sunderland was confirmed yesterday but work had already begun on finding his successor, with an approach made to the Swans on Monday evening.
Wigan initially baulked at the £2m-plus compensation fee insisted upon by The Championship club, but Whelan will not be put off in his pursuit of the highly-rated 35-year-old.
"He is my number one choice but I have not got permission to talk to him - I need permission from the Swansea chairman (Huw Jenkins) before I can even say hello to Roberto," said Whelan. "If he (Jenkins) says you've not got permission I've got to look elsewhere."
Martinez, who played for the Latics from 1995 to 2001, was due to hold talks with Jenkins last night after returning from holiday in Ibiza, and what the Spaniard says in that meeting will have a huge bearing on his future. It is believed he is more inclined to move to Wigan as opposed to Scottish giants Celtc, who made an approach to Swansea last week.
And Whelan is hopeful of tugging at the heart strings of the 35-year-old by reminding him of the part he played for the club. "He was one of my 'three amigos' when I brought three lads in ten to 12 years ago [the others were Jesus Seba and Isidro Diaz] and they revolutionised the football at Wigan," Whelan told Sky Sports News. "I have great hopes I can get Roberto Martinez back to Wigan, but he's done so well for Swansea and if Swansea refuse permission I'll have to look elsewhere."
Jenkins admits the two parties are "miles apart" in their valuation, but if Martinez insists he wants to leave the Swansea chairman may have to strike a compromise deal - very similar to the situation Wigan found themselves when Sunderland came calling for Bruce.
"Wigan asked what compensation we would be looking for and we talked about different figures," he told PA Sport. "I told them what I valued Roberto at and they told me what they thought - we were miles apart to say the least."
Bruce has been joined at the Stadium of Light by assistant Eric Black, goalkeeping coach Nigel Spink and Keith Bertschin, who was in charge of the reserves at the JJB Stadium.