The statement that he would take Everton where David Moyes could not – into the Champions League – may have been a reckless hostage to fortune. However, Roberto Martinez insisted his managerial record gave the promise validity.
His new chairman, Bill Kenwright, with whom the 39-year-old has signed a four-year contract, revealed that the first words Martinez said to him when he was interviewed to succeed Moyes as Everton manager were: "I will get you into the Champions League."
Given that Moyes only once achieved a top-four finish, and then failed to qualify for the competition proper, it was quite an opening gambit. By comparison Moyes' first words to his chairman in the grim March of 2002 were: "You will not be relegated."
"I do feel you should have a dream in football," said Martinez. "I started at Swansea and I always said we needed to get the club into the Premier League. That sounded obscene when we were in League One. Then, I went to Wigan and said the aim should be European football."
By winning the FA Cup in extraordinary circumstances last month, European football is precisely the legacy Martinez has left behind at Wigan. However, Kenwright acknowledged that the fact he also left the club in the Championship was a factor that had to be addressed.
"He doesn't flinch from those questions," he said. "Roberto told me that, had he had his first-choice back four for the whole season, Wigan would have been top 10. He said: 'We just had a terrible year with injuries.' But part of my other job – as a theatrical impresario – is recognising talent and he is an enormous talent."
Martinez argued that he should be judged over the course of his time at the DW Stadium. "I hope it would be about more than one season," he said. "You don't get a job just by winning the FA Cup and you should not be discounted because you have been relegated. What has been achieved off the field in particular at Wigan, has been remarkable."
Over the past couple of years, Martinez could have had his pick of big clubs. He turned down Aston Villa and this time last year he was in Miami, talking to Liverpool about succeeding Kenny Dalglish. "We had conversations but the job was not right for them or for me," he said about the offering from Anfield.
Part of the attraction of Everton is that the club will show patience.Martinez said he was "fascinated" that the club had only employed 14 managers in its history and in Kenwright he has someone who may not have the largesse of some Premier League chairmen but who will give him something perhaps more precious, time.
"With time you can achieve anything," said Martinez, who in his four years at Wigan reduced the wage bill by almost a quarter. "We do not have the money of other competing clubs [Everton's turnover is half of Liverpool's] but we do have an incredible platform that David Moyes has created."
Kenwright, who admitted that almost until the end he did not believe Moyes would leave Goodison Park, said he had formed a firm opinion on Martinez not after Wigan's 3-0 win over Everton in the FA Cup quarter-final back in March but during the Cup final itself.
"It was out of the blue," he said. "I went to see Marti Pellow in Evita in the afternoon, got home at 4.30 in the afternoon, looked at my watch and I said 'Shall we go and have a look at Roberto?' We live on that side of London, so we got there just literally as it was kicking off. And we watched him. He was so, so calm."
And then quoting the line from Jerry Maguire when Tom Cruise is told: "you had me at 'hello,'" Kenwright recalled that Moyes "had me at 30 seconds". Martinez took a little longer. "He had me at 45."Reuse content