http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-fc/liverpool-fc-news/2012/05/26/100252-31046728/Roberto Martinez is a born leader says ex-Liverpool FC captain Mark Wrightby James Pearce, Liverpool Echo - May 26 2012
IT didn’t take long for Mark Wright to realise he had signed someone with a bright future. In the summer of 2006 the former Liverpool defender was manager of Chester City when he secured the services of Roberto Martinez on a free transfer.
The Spanish midfielder, who had been released by Swansea City, made a big impact on and off the pitch at the then League Two club and was appointed captain.
Martinez was in the twilight of his playing career but Wright could see a manager in the making.
Six years on Wright isn’t surprised that the Wigan boss is a leading candidate to be appointed as Kenny Dalglish’s successor at Anfield.
“Roberto was an instant hit when we signed him at Chester,” Wright said.
“He was on the list that came around and my assistant Graham Barrow knew him from his days at Wigan.
“As soon as I met him it was clear that he was a leader and I made him my captain. He was just great to have around – always talking with the players and helping to motivate them.
“He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever come across and he knows his football inside out.
“I knew he would be management material. He always wanted to play in the correct manner and he knows how to handle people.”
Martinez moved on from Chester after just seven months after being offered the chance to return to Swansea City to take over as manager.
He left with Wright’s blessing and the ex-Reds centre-back has watched with interest as his stock has risen.
Martinez led Swansea to the League One title in 2008 and the following season they narrowly missed out on the play-offs in the Championship.
In the summer of 2009 he made the switch to Wigan and over the past three years has successfully kept the Latics in the top flight on a shoestring budget while playing an attractive brand of football.
Martinez oversaw a remarkable end to this season as they won seven of their final nine league games, including victories over Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal.
“Roberto didn’t want to leave Chester but he was given a great opportunity to go and manage Swansea,” Wright said.
“He’s an honourable man and he was reluctant to go – that’s how sincere he is.
“He did exceptionally well at Swansea. He got them promoted and put all the pieces in place for them to continue moving forward after he left.
“Since going to Wigan he’s done a great job on limited resources. At a club like Wigan it’s not easy – you are constantly trying to put out fires.
“He could have left last season after they stayed up by the skin of their teeth but he stayed loyal to them.
“They had a tough start to this season but the way they finished it was incredible. The way they beat all the big boys has enhanced his reputation and put him in the frame for bigger jobs.”
Some fans have voiced fears that Liverpool would represent too big a step up for the 38-year-old.
However, Wright, who made 210 appearances for the club between 1991 and 1997, has brushed aside concerns that Martinez would struggle to handle the extra pressure and expectation levels.
“I’ve got no doubt that given time Roberto would succeed at Anfield,” he said.
“He would do things the right way. It would be the type of football fans want to see.
“He’s not defensively minded, he would sign players with pace and flair. That’s the way he’s been brought up.
“What I can assure you is that Roberto is a strong character. He knows how to conduct himself in front of the media.
“Of course he hasn’t been at a big club like Liverpool before but I don’t think that would faze him.
“I don’t know what way the owners are going to go. But if they decide to appoint an experienced director of football with a younger manager working under him then I could understand that.
“They are obviously speaking to other managers as well. Brendan Rodgers must be in with a shout after what he’s done at Swansea and Paul Lambert at Norwich is another up and coming young manager.
“But I can’t speak highly enough of Roberto. If they decide he’s the right man then fantastic. I certainly think he has got the credentials and the character.”
Martinez held talks with principal owner John W Henry in Miami on Thursday but Fenway Sports Group are set to interview other candidates next week.
Wright believes Liverpool are right to take their time to ensure they get the best man for the job.
“This is a huge decision and you can’t rush it,” he added.
“I’m sure the owners will assess all the options and make the right call.
“My sister lives in Boston and while I’ve been over there visiting I’ve been to see the Red Sox play at Fenway Park.
“The way that’s run is very slick and professional. These guys are out to turn Liverpool around.
“Sacking Kenny must have been a very tough decision for them to make.
“He’s Mr Liverpool and every current and ex-Liverpool player holds Kenny in the highest esteem.
“He has done so much for the club and will always be a Liverpool legend.
“But that decision was made and now the club has to move on. This will be the start of a new era.”