x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

I was Liverpool's first choice, says Roberto Martinez

The Wigan manager claims he rejected the job before it was offered to Brendan Rodgers.

Roberto Martinez watched his Wigan Athletic side lose 2-0 to Chelsea in their Premier League opener. Clint Hughes / AP Photo
Roberto Martinez watched his Wigan Athletic side lose 2-0 to Chelsea in their Premier League opener. Clint Hughes / AP Photo

Roberto Martinez has rubbed salt in Brendan Rodgers' wounds by claiming that he was actually Liverpool's first choice to take over from Kenny Dalglish this summer.

Rodgers, who joined Liverpool from Swansea City in the summer, saw his Anfield era begin with a humiliating 3-0 loss at at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

And now Martinez, the Wigan Athletic coach, has revealed he was made an offer by Liverpool's owners, despite club chairman Tom Werner insisting that Rodgers was "the only person we made an offer to our first choice and the right choice".

Martinez was pictured meeting Liverpool owner John W Henry in Miami over the summer, as speculation mounted that the Spaniard was top of the list to replace Dalglish.

But when the club announced Rodgers's appointment, it seemed that Martinez had missed his opportunity. Instead, though, he says now that it was he who rejected Liverpool.

"I take satisfaction first of all from seeing my team win, but also from seeing the young kids soak up my philosophy, knowing that my club is in a healthy financial state and can progress across all areas every season," Martinez explained.

"This is vital. This is what a football club is: a philosophy. We must educate people. In five or six years, we reap the benefits. Maybe I won't be there then. But this is not why I stayed, when Liverpool made me an offer.

"I stayed at the club because my chairman is unique. This summer, we sat down together. He had thought about the future of the club, I had done the same. He knew that I had spoken with other clubs. But he is so persuasive... I extended my contract for three years. He wants to take the club to the next level. I know it will be difficult, but it excites me a lot."

Martinez's team lost their opening match of the season on Sunday, going down 2-0 to a Chelsea side that impressed going forward. But Wigan created chances and Martinez is confident that the team will continue to defy expectations for as long as owner Dave Whelan is at the helm.

Whelan has even said that he wants Wigan to become a top six side.

"That's the strength of Wigan Athletic: this club is based on the dream of one man," explained Martinez in an interview with France Football, out today.

"Our chairman wanted to make Wigan a Premier League club. The first time I heard that, it was in 1995. We played at Springfield Park. Our average attendance was 3,000 fans per match. And he told me: "In ten years, we will be in the top-flight and we have a 25,000-seater stadium.' You could laugh or cry, because in the normal world, that's just wouldn't happen.

"But this is where you bring in the Dave Whelan factor. When he has a goal, he uses his means to achieve it, and that dream is still alive. That's why Wigan is a club apart and why I respect him so much. And it's also why I attach so much value to the trust that the fans and the chairman have shown to me for so many years."

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