Liverpool to open talks with Roberto Martinez about succeeding Kenny Dalglish

  • @simonrice

Wigan have given Liverpool permission to speak to their manager Roberto Martinez over the vacancy at Anfield.

Speaking to Sky Sports this afternoon, Wigan's chairman Dave Whelan, confirmed Liverpool had been in contact.

"I was with Roberto when they phoned," he said.

"I have always said when a big club comes I will give permission and they don't come any bigger than Liverpool. I gave them permission and he will be talking to Liverpool soon."

The news would appear to show Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group are moving quickly to appoint a successor to Kenny Dalglish, who it was announced had been sacked yesterday.

It is understood that Martinez will not be the only manager approached, with The Independent reporting today that former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has already been sounded out about the possibility of filling the role.

Should Martinez be appointed, it would be a brave move from the Liverpool owners. After dismissing the hugely popular Dalglish, supporters have been demanding clear signals that the American owners know what they are doing.

It was expected a senior, experienced manager would be favoured as Liverpool look to re-establish themselves in the top-four, with former manager Rafael Benitez and former England manager Fabio Capello mooted. Therefore the decision to approach 38-year-old Martinez may not be well received.

Martinez began his managerial career in 2007 with Swansea. Quickly he began to establish a passing style of football that won many plaudits, although it did not win his side promotion from the Championship during his tenure. His successor, Brendan Rodgers, continued what Martinez had started and Swansea have just completed their first season in the Premier League, finishing 11th.

In 2009 he took over at Wigan, where he has been able to retain the Latics' Premier League status despite a lack of funds and some relegation scares along the way.

Last summer, he was approached by Aston Villa to take over from Gerard Houllier. The Spaniard opted to remain at Wigan, feeling he owed the club his loyalty due to owner Whelan having stuck by him in the past.

Wigan looked in danger of relegation this season, but would win seven of their last nine games, including victories over Manchester United, Arsenal, and perhaps most importantly considering today's news, Liverpool.

Whelan has expressed the disappointment he will feel should Martinez depart, but said he would not stand in the manager's way.

"For Wigan he has been a fantastic, superb manager, he'd be a very difficult act to follow but things happen, managers change clubs, you've just got to accept it. I don't know who's interviewing him at Liverpool or Roberto's feelings about Liverpool, I think he's going with an open mind. I'd love to keep Roberto, he's a great manager but unfortunately we may lose him."