Soccer: Everton hires Martinez as manager

Martinez who joined Wigan from Swansea in 2009. Photo / AP
Martinez who joined Wigan from Swansea in 2009. Photo / AP

Roberto Martinez was hired as Everton manager today after quitting relegated Wigan and immediately piled the pressure on himself by promising to guide his new club into the Champions League.

The 39-year-old Spaniard signed a four-year deal as the replacement for David Moyes, who is taking over from Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. Martinez becomes only Everton's 14th permanent manager in its 135-year history.

Moyes established Everton as a regular fixture in the top half of the Premier League during his 11 years at Goodison Park, but failed to either win a trophy or seriously challenge the top teams in the division.

Martinez believes it can all be different under him.

"Almost his first words to me were, 'I'll get you in the Champions League,"' Everton owner Bill Kenwright said, "and that is extraordinary for a man who doesn't know much about the football club from the inside but who has obviously studied the football club and looked at what we have been doing the last few years.

"I'm not going to say to you that it was like David Moyes and he got me in 30 seconds it took him at least 45 seconds. He understands the game, he understood Everton, the history, all the players, what he wanted to do ... All I can say is, when you know, you know."

Linked heavily with jobs at Liverpool and Aston Villa in recent seasons, his stock remained high despite failing to keep Wigan in the Premier League for next season. He guided the northwest team to a first major trophy thanks to a surprise 1-0 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup final in May and insisted on adopting an easy-on-the-eye style that earned plaudits across the country.

Relegation stained his record at Wigan but it didn't stop him being a wanted man.

"This is a real, real special day," Martinez said. "And I have this feeling already of excitement, honor. This is a phenomenal and passionate football club and I can't wait to get sunk with everything it means (to be) at Everton and make sure we start working on playing football to be extremely proud (of)."

A technically gifted midfielder who spent most of his 14-year playing career in the lower leagues in England, Martinez has gained more repute as a coach, first joining Swansea in 2007 and then taking over at Wigan two years later.

Under Wigan owner Dave Whelan, he enjoyed the rare commodity of a secure job and never wavered from his principles of entertaining and passing football. Ferguson was among the managers who praised Martinez for his approach to the game.

"It's something I expected when he asked me if he could leave," said Whelan, who allowed Martinez to begin talks with Everton in the wake of his team's relegation.

"Roberto has been for us one fantastic manager ... he's just such a wonderful character."

Joining Everton will be a big step up for Martinez, with his remit changing to qualifying for Europe rather than simply keeping a team in the Premier League. Under Moyes, the club finished in the Premier League's top eight every year since 2007, despite having a small budget to work with, and it placed sixth last season ahead of local rival Liverpool for the second straight year.

Everton remains one of England's biggest clubs, with a large fan base around the world owing to its success in the 1980s when it vied with Liverpool as the country's biggest team.

Its last major trophy was the FA Cup in 1995, however, and success-starved fans will want Martinez to replicate the stability of Moyes, who was in charge for 11 years, but also add some trophies to the mix.

"There is huge pressure but I am extremely proud of that pressure because it means what David Moyes did in 11 years is set high standards and lay an incredible platform," Martinez said.

"I feel lucky to be able to carry on that work. He has given Everton an identity and an incredible standard and all I want to do is be humble and hard-working enough to take this magnificent job to the next level."

Martinez's first task will be to secure the futures of Everton's star players such as Leighton Baines, Marouane Fellaini and Phil Jagielka, who are in demand after strong seasons at Goodison Park.

But Kenwright said Everton's best players weren't for sale and told Everton's fans to believe in his new appointment.

"If you had been at the meetings, conversations that I have had with our new manager, you would be as thrilled, as excited, as buoyed and in awe as I have been," Kenwright said.

-AP

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