Surprising news coming through that Roberto Martinez, the Spanish manager of Wigan Athletic has turned down an opportunity to manage Aston Villa.
Roberto Martinez – turns down Aston Villa – he’s a class act
A Villa statement confirmed today:
“Roberto met with his chairman earlier this week and he made the decision to honor his commitment to Wigan.”
Martinez is still only 37 years old, and is one of the best young managers in the game, and he has done so well at Wigan with very little money or resources available to him since he became manager in 2009, after spending two years at Swansea.
But it seems that Roberto is an old fashioned guy, and he has spoken of his commitment to Wigan’s youthful squad and their rather amazing escape from the drop last month.
The Aston Villa statement added:
“The club would like to thank Wigan Athletic Football Club and its chairman, Dave Whelan, for their professionalism in dealing with our request to speak to Roberto Martinez.”
“Roberto’s qualities as a young and aspirational manager ensured him of a position high on our shortlist of potential new managers.”
“Given that he had one year remaining on his contract at Wigan, we made an official approach through the proper channels, though we were aware of a commitment he had made to his club to agree and sign a new contract following the final game of last season.”
“Roberto met with his chairman earlier this week and he has made the decision to honor his commitment to Wigan.” “Therefore, we have not met Roberto and we have not had the opportunity to discuss the vacant managerial role with him.”
“We remain focused and are working hard to secure the best candidate for Aston Villa who will complement the club’s commitment to be true to our heritage, competitiveness and passionate fan base.”
“And we will have the new manager in place to prepare the players for the pre-season program and next season’s campaign.”
To give Dave Whelan credit, the Wigan Chairman had said yesterday that he thought Roberto would elect to stay at Wigan, and that must be a huge lift for their supporters and the club in general.
Since Martinez has just one year left on his contract we now expect Dave, one of the good guys in football, to offer Roberto a new contract on improved terms, as he hinted yesterday when he was interviewed on Sky Sports.
But there’s something of a breath of fresh air in the way that Roberto Martinez has stayed loyal to Wigan, and it’s something you don’t see too often these days, in a world of greed and ambition.
This is what a delighted Whelan had to say today:
“This is not all about money because Roberto is not a greedy man.” “Managers and footballers have a reputation of greed and it is assumed they are all like that. He has sentiment and feelings and has a great respect for the operation at Wigan Athletic.”
Mike Ashley was said to be interested in Roberto when he was still managing Swansea, and he was thought at that time (around 2008), to be an up-and-coming manager who played very attractive football.
To keep Wigan in the Premier League in the last few seasons has been almost a miracle, but Roberto has done that, and of course in May the Latics won their last two league games to stay in England’s top league for next season.
We have to hope that Roberto can do the same thing again next season – but it’s not often you see this sort of character and class displayed in football – it’s just great to see.