Wigan chairman Dave Whelan turns up heat on Liverpool contender Roberto Martinez

 

Liverpool managerial front-runner Roberto Martinez is due to have further talks with the Merseyside club's owners tomorrow but Wigan chairman Dave Whelan is trying to force the issue by bringing forward the date he wants a decision from his manager.

Last week Whelan said he would give the Spaniard until June 5 to make up his mind, with the Spaniard returning from his holidays tomorrow. However, Whelan has now said he wants to know by this Thursday what Martinez's plans are.

"Roberto has told me he is speaking with Liverpool again on Tuesday," Whelan told ESPN.

"I have now made it clear that I want this sorted out by Thursday at the latest as we have to get on preparing for next season."

Doubts remain as to whether Martinez wants to work under a sporting director in a new set-up at Anfield, and it had been suggested at the weekend that the 38-year-old would hold a press conference tomorrow to reveal his plans but the idea that will happen has been dismissed by Wigan.

Whelan, who confirmed Liverpool's approach almost a fortnight ago and then, last Thursday, said Martinez had met with Reds' principal owner John Henry, is keen to push the process along quickly, Fenway Sports Group are not.

That is why Martinez may not be able to meet Whelan's Thursday deadline as Liverpool's American owners are still keen to speak to other potential candidates.

Reports emerged suggesting they were keen to speak to Swansea's Brendan Rodgers despite him turning down their initial approach two weeks ago and it is believed Henry and Liverpool chairman Tom Werner may be travelling to England this week to finalise the selection process.

Swans chairman Huw Jenkins dismissed those claims as "pure speculation" but the club were moved to issue a statement re-iterating their - and Rodgers' - position.

"We would like to clarify the speculation in the press surrounding our manager Brendan Rodgers," it said.

"We would like to confirm that there has been no contact from Liverpool and nothing has changed since our previous statement on the issue."

Ten days ago the south Wales club confirmed they had received an official approach from Liverpool to speak to Rodgers but that it had been turned down by their manager.

"The club is pleased to confirm that Brendan has declined the current opportunity to speak to the Anfield club about the vacant position," said their initial statement.

"The Swansea manager is currently working hard to strengthen the squad in readiness for the new Barclays Premier League campaign."

Whelan, however, has used the speculation surrounding Rodgers' potential re-involvement in the process to criticise Liverpool's handling of their recruitment.

"If it is true that Liverpool want to speak with Brendan Rodgers it proves they don't know who they want as manager," added the Latics chairman, who insists he wants to keep Martinez at the DW Stadium but will not stand in the way of him leaving for a bigger club.

"I hope they choose Brendan Rodgers."

PA

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