Roberto Martínez – has he done enough to be Everton's next manager?

For Phil Neville they were "the worst three minutes of my career" and brought his Everton playing days to a shattering halt.

For Roberto Martínez, by contrast, they are 180 seconds that could prove to be the making of a career at Goodison Park. They were evidently enough for the Everton board to spot that David Moyes's potential successor was stood next to him when Wigan Athletic dismantled their FA Cup ambitions in March.

Martínez will replace Moyes as Everton manager should talks with chairman Bill Kenwright reach amicable agreement and Wigan receive compensation of around £2m. The deal could be in place within days, leaving Everton to keep everything crossed that Wigan's historic FA Cup success, and not their relegation from the Premier League after eight seasons, is the true reflection of their new appointment's capabilities.

Unlike the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the club's new crest – for which an apology has now been issued – opinion on Everton's favoured managerial choice appears divided among the fan-base. That is to be expected of a relegated FA Cup winner, although memories of Wigan's emphatic 3-0 quarter-final victory at Goodison in March will turn from traumatic to consoling should he complete the short journey to Merseyside. Wigan blitzed Everton with three goals in as many minutes to end Moyes's last and arguably best chance of winning a trophy in his 11 years at Goodison, but victory was far more convincing than Neville's description would suggest.

It was achieved with a style and ambition that reflected the best of the Wigan manager's designs for the club he first joined as a player, then an unknown member of the "three amigos" in 1995. Boldness was evident again as Manchester City were beaten in the final at Wembley to give Wigan the biggest prize in their brief, professional history. Four days later they were relegated. Just as Manchester United have taken a leap of faith in replacing Sir Alex Ferguson with a manager lacking title-winning or Champions League experience, so too Everton with a manager who has won 38 of his 152 matches in the Premier League – a ratio of 25% over four seasons that has seen Wigan finish 16th, 16th, 15th and 18th.

There is nothing like a Goodison humbling to make an Everton board take note of a potential new manager. In September 1993 an Efan Ekoku-inspired Norwich City won 5-1 at Everton under the leadership of Mike Walker, who was soon enticed to Goodison for what proved a calamitous 10-month reign spent in a relegation embrace. Fortunately for Everton, the choice of Martínez is not based exclusively on a one-off triumph at Goodison and the club is far removed from the desperate place it was back then.

Martínez's football principles are clear. He has a confident, optimistic personality, an immense work ethic but also a blind-spot when it comes to constructing a rigid defence. In fairness to the Wigan manager, and his relegated team, the club's extensive injury-list was not a convenient excuse for another season of struggle, but a reality. Defence was especially hard hit, with first choices Antolín Alcaraz, Ivan Ramis and Maynor Figueroa all absent for lengthy periods. At Everton he would inherit a back-line containing players in Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines who Moyes moulded into England internationals. He would also, at present, have a backroom staff that includes the invaluable defensive experience of Andy Holden, David Weir and Alan Stubbs.

Martínez's influence throughout Wigan, from the playing style of the youth academy to the club's scouting network and demands on the chairman, Dave Whelan, for improved training facilities, has also been noted throughout the Premier League.

He was granted permission to speak with Aston Villa in 2011 but elected to remain at the DW Stadium. Last summer he was allowed to talk to Liverpool's owner John W Henry, who was impressed with the now 39-year-old's vision before confirming the appointment of Brendan Rodgers as Kenny Dalglish's successor. Liverpool maintain Martínez was never formally offered their job and no doubt Evertonians will dispute that should he end up on their side of Stanley Park.

Unlike at Stoke City, who are also interested in Martínez, the Wigan manager he would not have to overhaul Everton's style should he accept the task of succeeding Moyes. The Scot's reactive, negative image was transformed throughout the first half of last season by a series of outstanding Everton performances. Only the absence of a proven goalscorer, or Nikica Jelavic's failure to replicate his initial Everton form, cost the club European qualification in Moyes's final campaign in charge.

Marouane Fellaini is likely to leave this summer should a Champions League club activate his £24m release clause but with the added millions from the new broadcasting deal, Martínez would find himself working with a much healthier transfer budget, and higher wage bill, than he ever received at Wigan. As so many have said of the man he is earmarked to replace as Everton manager, he deserves the opportunity.

Powered by article was written by Andy Hunter, for The Guardian on Tuesday 28th May 2013 21.42 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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