Relegation no obstacle to new Premier League job

LONDON Wed May 29, 2013 7:56pm IST

Wigan Athletic's manager Roberto Martinez holds his hand to his ear as the crowd cheers during a victory parade after the team won the English FA Cup in Wigan, northern England May 20, 2013. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

Wigan Athletic's manager Roberto Martinez holds his hand to his ear as the crowd cheers during a victory parade after the team won the English FA Cup in Wigan, northern England May 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Nigel Roddis

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LONDON (Reuters) - Having a relegation on your CV might not seem the best thing for the employment prospects of aspiring Premier League managers but it does not seem to be hampering their chances of a plum job.

Roberto Martinez is being courted by high-flying Everton despite presiding over Wigan Athletic's drop to the second tier after they conceded a joint-worst 73 goals in 38 league games.

They have won plaudits for their attacking play and lifted their first major trophy with an FA Cup triumph over Manchester City but Martinez being so sought after has bemused some Wigan fans, who have taken to social media to celebrate his exit.

"Martinez sent us down and left. Good riddance," wrote one fan on Twitter after the Spaniard asked to leave on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old, who turned down Aston Villa two years ago, had engineered a series of relegation escapes since he took over in 2009 but having a manager who eventually lost a drop-zone dog fight is not exactly what sixth-placed Everton covet.

The Liverpool-based side, who have lost long-term manager David Moyes to Manchester United after Alex Ferguson's retirement, are keen to push on for the top four and the Champions League places next term on a limited budget.

Martinez's emphasis on an attractive passing game and his eye for a transfer bargain in far flung corners of the world like Central America are likely to be plus points for Everton.

"I will speak with Roberto in the next 48 hours," Everton chairman Bill Kenwright told Sky Sports News on Wednesday.

"He is on the list. No more than on the list.

"There's no way I or anyone can say we will get it right."

HUGHES FAILURE

It is not just Martinez who could be rewarded despite failure in the Premier League.

Mark Hughes is favourite for the vacant Stoke City job despite failing spectacularly at Queens Park Rangers on a big budget, getting sacked in November and leaving such a mess that even experienced hand Harry Redknapp could not stop relegation.

Former Wales manager Hughes was previously fired by Manchester City in 2009 and left mid-table Fulham in 2011 because he said they did not meet his ambition.

Stoke had become a solid if mostly dour top-flight outfit under Tony Pulis before his seven-year reign ended last week with the board wanting to take a different direction.

Cynical fans are hoping the club's new direction if Hughes is handed the job won't be down.

They have already been protesting against the Welshman's possible appointment, with one supporter parking his van with a giant "Hughes out" sign in the Britannia Stadium car park.

Bookmakers William Hill have cut the odds on Stoke being relegated next season to 3-1 fifth favourites.

"That's the shortest price for relegation since their first season back in the top flight. The Hughes rumour has hardly set the market alight," William Hill's Joe Crilly told Reuters.

"Given what happened at QPR, the Stoke fans would be on his back straight away."

KEY FACTOR

Experience of the English top flight or a similarly high-pressured European league seems the most important factor when boards are assessing candidates, with young up-and-coming coaches from the lower divisions rarely considered.

Indeed, appointing a manager whose most recent record is dire is not a new development in the Premier League.

Many Villa fans were aghast when the club named Alex McLeish as their new boss in 2011 despite his having led local rivals Birmingham City to relegation from the top flight weeks earlier.

"That was just a bizarre decision," Crilly added.

Villa sacked him a year later after flirting with the drop.

Premier League boards rarely seem to look at trophy cabinets these days when selecting new coaches.

Rafael Benitez was only ever seen as an interim appointment at Chelsea despite a European Cup, Club World Cup, two Spanish titles, an FA Cup and a UEFA Cup on his résumé before landing the Europa League with the Blues and then leaving for Napoli.

Moyes excelled by keeping Everton in the upper echelons of the Premier League for much of his 11 years in charge but did not win any silverware, in stark contrast to new employers Manchester United.

Moyes' original appointment at Everton, where he was plucked from English second tier side Preston North End after modest success, is unlikely to be mirrored any time soon if the recycling of Premier League managers remains in vogue.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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