Dave Whelan keen to keep Roberto Martinez at Wigan amid Everton speculation - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Dave Whelan keen to keep Roberto Martinez at Wigan amid Everton speculation

The pair are due to hold discussions at the end of the season

Roberto Martinez's future at Wigan is set to be decided after the team's final match of the season when he meets chairman Dave Whelan.

The pair are due to hold discussions following the FA Cup winners' closing Premier League game against Aston Villa on Sunday.

Whelan expects the talks to be "honest" and claimed he would accept any decision from the Spaniard should he want to leave the DW Stadium.

The 76-year-old does, however, hold out hope he could persuade Martinez to remain and lead Wigan's bid to return to the Premier Legaue after their relegation, following eight years in the top-flight, was confirmed with a 4-1 defeat at Arsenal last night.

"At the end of the season what we always do is get together and have a talk," Whelan told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Roberto is so honest and I'm honest with him. We put our cards on the table and whatever Roberto says we will accept and we will honour.

"We'd all love him to stay."

Martinez, who led Wigan to their first FA Cup success at the weekend, has been linked as a possible replacement for David Moyes at Everton.

Whelan had to fend off interest in Martinez last summer and admitted interest from bigger clubs in his manager had remained strong.

"He's being chased regularly by some very, very big and wealthy clubs around England," he said.

"We'll have talks to persuade him; if we need to persuade him because he is a dedicated man.

"He goes by his word. He's so honest and we respect him enormously. Everybody in Wigan hopes that Roberto stays with us."

Whelan's desire to keep Martinez is understandable, with the club set to face a congested fixture list when they bid to make an immediate return to the Premier League next season.

Wigan's 1-0 FA Cup final win over Manchester City booked them a place in next year's Europa League, which will be added to the 46-game slog of a Championship campaign and cup competitions.

"We've got so many matches next season," Whelan said.

"We've got Europe and there is 46 games in the Championship. It's a fantastic challenge and a challenge we've got to take on board and get on with it and fight our way back to the Premier."

Whelan said he suspected the club were doomed to the drop following last week's 3-2 home defeat to Swansea - when they had twice led.

Victory at Wembley inspired hope of another league escape, but it was not to be as Wigan became the first club to win the FA Cup and go down in the same season.

"It's very unusual to win the cup and then get relegated. I don't think it has ever been done before," Whelan said.

"Wigan Athletic have never won the cup and it was a fantastic achievement but the writing was on the wall when we lost to Swansea at home.

"We should have won that match, but it's football. We've got to fight our way back next season."

Three goals in the space of eight minutes just after the hour mark last night from Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski - who also scored in the first half - and Aaron Ramsey meant there was to be no fairytale ending for Martinez's men, despite another brave crack at the great escape.

"It is not one of those moments to be too sad - it is the opposite," Martinez said.

"To have eight years at this level is incredible. We have beaten every top club and financially we are in a strong position. As a Wigan fan, it is a time to be proud of what we have achieved.

"The FA Cup is an achievement we will never lose as a club. It is our first silverware, but it is a real shame it happens in the same season as relegation.

"You don't normally get teams good enough to win the cup going down - that is why it is difficult to take.

"When you walk into the dressing room after this match, it is heartbreaking.

"But we haven't been good enough in the defensive area and that is why we have been relegated."

PA

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