Roberto will repay Whelan's faith
Following 48 hours of intense speculation over the Spaniard’s future, Roberto Martinez has opted to stay at Wigan Athletic, putting pen to paper in a contract that will keep him at the club for three more years. It is thought Martinez rejected a deal with Aston Villa worth around twice his current contract because of the faith chairman Dave Whelan has placed in him over the course of his time at Wigan.
In a crunch 12pm meeting at the DW Stadium, Martinez confirmed his decision to Whelan, who has remained confident the Balaguer-born Latics legend would stay. Prior to the meeting, Sky Sports News briefly spoke to Whelan, who said of Martinez:
“Roberto is not a greedy man. Managers have a reputation for greed, but Roberto has sentiment, he has feeling and a great admiration for Wigan Athletic.”
Aston Villa did not enter into extended talks as Martinez “wanted to honour his contract” with the Lancashire club, according to an official statement. The Midlands outfit will now be forced to look elsewhere to fill their vacant managerial position.
“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.” — Aston Villa club statement, avfc.co.uk
We can assume the Latics boss made a verbal agreement with Whelan immediately following the season’s end to remain at Latics. However, we all know this would mean little if the right contract came along. The precise details of Villa’s offer can only be speculated; perhaps the Spaniard is holding out for a better contract further down the line? More likely, the fact he “did not meet” with Aston Villa representatives seems to suggest he is staying staunchly faithful to the club that brought him to British football, for the moment at least.
Whelan: "Roberto is showing football is not about greed, there's loyalty in it"
“Roberto is staying, that’s the great news. I had a gut feeling he wanted to stay at Wigan. He’s signing a new 3-year contract; we’ve had to give him an increase in basic salary, but money is not what this has been about. Villa will be disappointed, but I’m over the moon and I’m sure Wigan supporters will be too.
“Roberto is such a straight guy, honest and easy to deal with. Money is an afterthought to him. We got a quick agreement.
“I don’t think we were really close to losing him. We all know he’s going places, Aston Villa are a big club, and when you have a club like that coming for you, it’s something to be proud of. But had he gone to Villa I wouldn’t have blamed him. The supporters in Wigan look at this and think, Roberto is showing that football is not about greed, there’s a loyalty in it. He has been so loyal to me in all this.
“One of the big clubs in Europe will inevitably come for him, and then I would be resigned to losing him. I’m just relieved my gut feeling was right. I could feel the loyalty coming out of Roberto, it bubbled to the surface as soon as our meeting started. When they said Jesus is a Wiganer, Roberto is now a Wiganer.”