Most managers want more money to stay at a football club. Some want a greater transfer budget. Roberto Martinez wanted a new training ground. The choice this summer between Liverpool and Wigan Athletic, who play each other tomorrow at Anfield, seemed on the surface a nonsensical equation.
As he prepared to meet Liverpool's owners in Florida, Martinez seemed the likeliest candidate to succeed Kenny Dalglish. His chairman, Dave Whelan, appeared to accept he would leave.
If anything was offered in Miami – and Liverpool deny anything was – Martinez traded it in return for securing the long term at Wigan. "What happened in the summer was the right time for it to have happened," Martinez said of a period when Liverpool were not his only suitors.
"I had an agreement of three years with my chairman, who has been loyal and supportive. I had the opportunity to pay back that loyalty after my second season here [when he rejected an approach from Aston Villa].
"The third year was the time to think what it was he wanted to do. I wanted certain things done internally for me to stay. That meant investing in a new training ground, which we are 12 months away from. It meant investing in the structure of the Under-21s and trying to keep the players we wanted to keep."
Did he expect Whelan to agree to his demands? "Oh no," Martinez replied. "It took the chairman a week or two to think about it. Then, he was as excited as I have ever seen him."
On the surface, Martinez's request to build up Wigan's infrastructure appears a strange one, especially because it is often the man who succeeds you who reaps the benefit, just as David O'Leary did with the young players brought to Leeds United by Howard Wilkinson in the 1990s.
"I like to build a football club. I did at Swansea and there is a pleasure in seeing football clubs three or four years down the line even when you are not involved," said Martinez.
"Having been in the Premier League for eight years, Wigan have not got enough to show for it. The summer was a key moment to do that and the chairman agreed to have a legacy to leave behind."
By staying on, Martinez acknowledges that he is running a risk. Wigan have a small squad and operate on a limited budget. They have already lost the winger Victor Moses to Chelsea and loss of form and injuries would make the club intensely vulnerable. As Owen Coyle discovered at Bolton, strong relationships between chairman and manager corrode with relegation.
"You have the risk of losing any job in football," he said. "That is the nature of the game. What is important is that you understand what you have got and how you can improve it. Always have a plan, not for one season but for the next two, five and 10 years. There is always a right time and a wrong time to leave a football club."Reuse content