ROBERTO Martinez will be offered a new long-term contract by Wigan Athletic to stave off unwanted interest from rival Premier League clubs, the Evening Post can exclusively reveal.
The Spaniard has worked wonders to keep Latics in the top flight, while reducing the wage bill at the same time, and his style of play has won admirers up and down the country.
His name was immediately linked with the vacant managerial hotseat at Aston Villa following the departure of Gerard Houllier this week, although Mark Hughes remains the clear front-runner to take over the reins.
Hughes walked out on Fulham yesterday, and Martinez was immediately linked with that job as well, along with Martin O’Neill, Martin Jol and Steve McClaren.
The Wigan boss has just 12 months to run of the three-year deal he penned in the summer of 2009, but has repeatedly spoken of his ‘long-term plan’ to establish Latics as a top-half Premier League outfit.
His relationship with chairman Dave Whelan and chief executive Jonathan Jackson is as watertight as they come, and Jackson says a new deal will be a priority when the trio sit down shortly to plan for next term.
“Roberto has done fantastically well for this football club and we’d love him to remain here for many years,” Jackson told the Evening Post.
“We’ve all been fully focused on what was going on at the end of the season, and ensuring we remained in the Premier League.
“Now we can look forward, and that (Martinez’s future) will be one of the main topics on our agenda. It will be something we’ll be looking at over the next month or so.”
Jackson accepts speculation linking Martinez with other jobs is ‘inevitable’, but reckons the pull of the club he first joined as a player back in 1995 is still as strong as ever.
“Clearly Roberto will be linked with other jobs because of how well he’s done here, but we all want him to stay,” Jackson added.
“Personally I think Roberto will end up as manager of a very top club in the future. If and when that happens we’ll have to prepare for that.
“But it’s been well-documented that he’s got a five-year plan at this club, which involves overhauling the youth development side of things as well as establishing Wigan as a Premier League side that not only survives every year but pushes on towards the top 10.
“We’re in the middle of that process now and I think he’s enjoying the challenge.”
Whelan nailed his colours to the mast by stating two years ago he would stick with Martinez even if Latics were to get relegated, and it’s clear the pair enjoy a special bond.
“I’m always talking to Roberto, and we have a solid, solid relationship,” Whelan said. “I really don’t need to talk to Roberto about this kind of thing, I trust him implicitly.
“One day Roberto will get a job at a top European club, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. But we hope he’ll be at Wigan for another two or three years yet.
“Roberto is Roberto – he can stay as long as he likes.
“But we haven’t spoken about a new deal yet. We’ll talk about it when the time comes.”