Belfast Telegraph

Martinez to reject Villa offer and stay at Wigan

By Ian Herbert

Roberto Martinez appeared last night to have decided against a move to the Aston Villa managerial seat, despite the prospects of a vastly greater budget in what would have been a significant new step in his already meteoric career rise.

Villa approached Wigan chairman Dave Whelan last week to establish if they could speak to Martinez and the 37-year-old, who was offered a contract extension by Whelan, appears to have stuck to his conviction that he owes the sports retail entrepreneur one more year.

Martinez has played a substantial role in overhauling all aspects of Wigan and has great conviction in his belief that his side had finally grown accustomed to his footballing culture in the last quarter of last season.

Martinez is convinced Wigan can avoid another relegation scrap in the next season.

Villa have rejected Steve McClaren and concluded that Rafael Benitez's demands were too great, so the options are increasingly limited.

The desire for a manager with Premier League experience makes Owen Coyle and Alan Curbishley candidates in what is becoming a difficult challenge for chairman Randy Lerner, following the departure of Gerard Houllier.

The chances of Villa reconsidering their decision to pass over Mark Hughes, whom they felt acted badly in the way he left Fulham, still appear remote, despite the absence of contenders and the Welshman's strong track record.

Whelan had expected Martinez to make a swift decision about his future.

“It's in Roberto's hands and I will support him whatever way he wants to go,” Whelan said.

“I think he will make a decision in the next 24 hours, and my gut feeling is that he will stay.”

Whelan praised the way in which Villa have conducted themselves after giving his permission for talks, and insisted Martinez is destined to manage at the highest level. “I would say to Aston Villa fans that your club have been superb and so honest,” said the 74-year-old owner.

“Roberto has done a superb job at Wigan. He's a fine manager and will [eventually] go to one of the top six clubs in Europe.

“I've offered him an extension and a better contract as he only has 12 months left on his current one. Together, we're a great partnership. My advice to him is that he should stay at least another season, but I've got to be realistic about it.”

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