Roberto Martinez has always signed off his Wigan Athletic programme notes with the words Sin miedo ("Without fear"), and he will need every ounce of that creed if he emerges from his encounter with Liverpool's American owners as the man to take over at Anfield.
In so many ways, he fits the criteria which Fenway Sports Group (FSG) has laid out for a manager, and the name of his club happens to be quoted regularly by one of the sportsmen to whom John W Henry ascribes great value – the "Moneyball" king Billy Beane, whom he tried and failed to sign at the Boston Red Sox. Wigan are to the Premier League what Beane's Oakland As are to baseball. It is not just Martinez's net spend of £3.5m over three years which will catch the Americans' eye but the way he has introduced a style of play and a philosophy which runs through the club.
This is enshrined on various inspirational signs which litter Wigan's training ground. "Courage, Possession and Arrogance," is his favourite. A consistent playing ethos, running from youth ranks to first team, is precisely what the Americans want and they will also learn from the Spaniard next week about how he has given Wigan that philosophy.
It was hard to put the mental image of 38-year-old Martinez out of mind yesterday as managing director Ian Ayre detailed the qualities Liverpool are looking for. "Experience and ability, methodology, style of play, character traits..."
The task at Liverpool is huge. The playing staff looks what it is – the product of two appointments made in crisis. They are a club desperately seeking to keep up with Manchester City, Chelsea and the other monied classes.
The extraordinary aspect is that Liverpool remain right up there with Manchester United as the global commercial powerhouses of British football, despite the paucity of recent success. Their Warrior kit contract, at £25m a year, more than doubles the deal City have just struck with Umbro. But Liverpool, still bereft of their 60,000-seater stadium, feel vulnerable.
"Liverpool and Manchester United dominate the landscape but that doesn't last forever," Ayre said yesterday. "That is why progress is so important. Nobody is looking for average, mediocre progress. We are looking for progress that will get the football club back where it needs to be."
Such is the toughest job spec in British football. It seems too much for a manager who has only known about holding on to Premier League status – even if he knows no fear.Reuse content