Liverpool have made the first move in their search for a new manager by approaching Wigan’s Roberto Martinez but he will be among a number of candidates they will speak to before a replacement is chosen.
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan confirmed he has given the Spaniard permission to speak to Reds owners Fenway Sports Group after they made an approach late yesterday.
There are a number of other names in the frame who FSG will try to approach in order to get the broadest view possible of the options they have open to them.
Former Porto and Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas, Swansea’s Brendan Rodgers, Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp and Marseille’s Didier Deschamps – as well as ex-Reds boss Rafael Benitez – have all been linked with the vacancy.
Managing director Ian Ayre said yesterday principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner had sought advice from “pre-eminent people in football” to help give them a better idea of how to get the right man to succeed sacked club icon Kenny Dalglish.
The Americans’ task would have been made easier with a director of football in post, but after dismissing Damien Comolli just over a month ago they have yet to appoint his replacement, although that process is well advanced.
Martinez would not be a popular choice among fans, who see the Spaniard as lacking the necessary experience but Whelan has no doubt about his capabilities to handle the demands of a big club.
“I knew that the day would come when this happened, so it wasn’t unexpected,” the Wigan chairman told ESPN.
“He is a good manager so I am not surprised a club like Liverpool want him.”
Whelan added on Sky Sports: “I have always said when a big club comes he would have permission to talk to them and they don’t come any bigger than Liverpool.
“When Liverpool sacked Kenny I have to say I thought Liverpool would be knocking on the door and sure enough they are.
“It is up to him and Liverpool now. I can imagine he will want to manage such a big club but I would willingly keep him if I could.
“He only signed a new three-year contract three months ago so I would be due compensation – but I would rather have Roberto than the compensation.”
Questions have already been asked about Martinez’s suitability for a club the size of Liverpool, considering he only has experience at the bottom end of the Premier League and in the Football League with Swansea prior to that.
However, the Latics finished as the form side of the division with seven wins in nine matches to escape relegation once again while Liverpool were floundering - and it was done on a shoestring budget with players of considerably lower quality than those at Anfield.