Reds approach Wigan’s Martinez

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Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez

Liverpool have been given permission to speak to Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez as the search to replace sacked legend Kenny Dalglish gets underway.

Within 24 hours of dismissing club legend Dalglish after less than 18 months back in the job, Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group made contact with Wigan chairman Dave Whelan, who consented to the Reds meeting Martinez for talks about taking charge at Anfield.

The Spaniard made his name at his first club, Swansea City, by guiding them to promotion to the Championship with a slick, passing style of football.

A Latics player for six years during his playing career, Martinez returned to his former club as a manager in 2009 and has maintained Wigan’s Premier League status for three seasons.

The 38-year-old faced mounting pressure earlier this season after losing eight consecutive matches but a stunning turnaround in form as the season reached its climax kept Wigan in the division.

After Martinez drastically altered his tactics, a 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield preceded a home win against Manchester United, an away triumph at Arsenal and a 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle United.

Reports suggest that Martinez is not the Reds’ sole target, however, with FSG likely to interview several candidates before reaching a decision.

Brendan Rodgers, now manager of Swansea, had also been linked with the position after impressing the country with his team’s attractive football in the Premier League.

But the Northern Irishman rejected an invitation to be interviewed and will instead remain with the Welsh club.

The Swans won promotion to the top flight via the play-offs last season, Rodgers’ first at the helm, and found life comfortable among the elite, beating the Reds 1-0 on the final day of the season to secure 11th place.

Former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas is another name reportedly on FSG’s radar, while rumours continue that Rafa Benitez would be interested in a return to Anfield after leaving in 2010.

It has been reported that outgoing Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and highly-experienced Italian Fabio Capello also feature on FSG’s shortlist but the pair would seem unrealistic options at present.

About Chris Shaw, Senior Editor