Wigan Athletic news

Whelan: Martinez can leave for big club

April 29, 2012
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has tipped Roberto Martinez to "get one of the top jobs in Europe" and said he would be happy to let the Spanish boss leave this summer if a big club come knocking.

Dave Whelan Wigan and Roberto Martinez
GettyImagesDave Whelan has overseen Wigan's rise from Division Three to the Premier League

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Martinez, 38, is on the brink of steering the Latics away from relegation for the second successive season after masterminding recent victories over Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle.

The former Swansea midfielder was approached by Aston Villa last summer, but rejected the opportunity to take over at the Midlands club in favour of another season at the DW Stadium.

Whelan has been delighted with Wigan's recent resurgence but is aware that the club's upturn in fortunes could be a double-edged sword should Martinez be targeted again.

"He's doing a magnificent job,'' Whelan told Radio Five Live's Sportsweek. "I've always said Roberto will go to one of the top clubs in Europe and when that time comes he will leave Wigan with my blessing.

"He's just a brilliant manager and he will get one of the top jobs in Europe. I don't want to lose Roberto but it is inevitable he will climb the ladder.''

At one stage this season, Wigan lost eight matches in a row, and seemed near certainties for the drop. But Saturday's stunning 4-0 victory over Newcastle put them three points clear of the drop zone going into their final two matches against fellow strugglers Blackburn and already-relegated Wolves.

Whelan insisted that even during the toughest times this season, he never had any doubts that Martinez was the right man to save them, and that the fans were on board too.

"(Managers) need support too,'' he said. "He got support from the chairman and he got support from the fans too. We've not had one fan crying for his dismissal and every fan in Wigan has been behind Roberto.

"Hopefully now we can stay in the Premier League for another season.''