Martinez on top of Whelan's wishlist

Wigan are considering Spaniard or Ferguson Jnr to fill managerial vacancy
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Roberto Martinez, the much sought after Swansea City manager, appears to be the prime contender for the vacancy created by Steve Bruce's departure from Wigan Athletic, though the fascinating prospect of Darren Ferguson taking up the position is also a real one.

The Wigan chairman Dave Whelan's admiration of Martinez, whose stock has risen considerably since he took over at the Liberty Stadium two years ago, is shared by Celtic, who also want to speak to the Spaniard. The SPL side have so far been refused permission to speak to the 35-year-old, but the Swans are waiting for him to return from holiday in Spain before establishing his views on the matter and deciding whether to change their standpoint.

Whelan is keen to avoid a hiatus, though, and may well have Bruce's successor in place within a week. His habit of appointing young managers is likely to be continued this time around, which also raises the prospect of Ferguson Jnr, who has taken Peterborough from League Two to the Championship in a little over two years at London Road, facing his father, the Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, next season. Relations between Wigan and United are close and Whelan will have to consider the consequences for his relationship with Sir Alex were Darren to take over and struggle. But that will not be a major consideration and Wigan would not face the difficulty in securing his services experienced by Reading, who approached Peterborough after Steve Coppell's exit.

Another contender for the position is Graeme Souness, out of work since leaving Newcastle in February 2006. The former Wigan manager Paul Jewell is in a similar position since his time at Derby ended last December. Though Jewell was not pleased by Whelan's suggestion that the pressure of the club's relegation battle two years ago had contributed to his decision to leave, the two have retained contact.

The most difficult decision may be Martinez's. Celtic will hold some appeal for an individual who played briefly for Motherwell in 2001-02 and whose long-term girlfriend is Scottish, but a shot at the Premier League may hold greater attraction. While a failure to break into the Motherwell side forced Martinez's sudden departure from Scotland, his time at Wigan was happier. As part of the Spanish contingent including Jesus Seba and Isidro Diaz, he was a regular first-team player for six years from 1995 – his longest period at an one club. The Swansea chairman, Huw Jenkins, has revealed that he has also had an approach from Real Sociedad for Martinez.

Ferguson may have less to distract him. He was 37 when he joined Peterborough in January 2007 as a player-manager and, having guided the club to 10th place in League Two, he took up the management role on a full-time basis the next season. The club were runners-up and also second in the 2008-09 League One campaign.

Whelan said yesterday: "I am sure there will be 10, 15, 20 applications and, if [Martinez and Ferguson] are among the applicants, then obviously I have to give them consideration. They are good lads."

Comments