London: Liverpool have been given permission by Wigan to speak to manager Roberto Martinez about succeeding the fired Kenny Dalglish.
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan says the approach from Liverpool came on Thursday while he was with Martinez, a day after Dalglish was sacked following the club's disappointing season in which they finished eighth in the Premier League.
"I gave him permission and he will be talking to them soon. I don't know when," Whelan told British broadcaster Sky Sports. "I have always said when a big club comes, I will give permission and they don't come any bigger than Liverpool. He has been a fantastic, superb manager [for Wigan]. He will be a difficult act to follow."
"The decision would be entirely Roberto's. We did speak about Liverpool. Liverpool have undergone some changes in the last two years, some massive changes, and I still think they need to settle down as a football club ... Liverpool are functioning without a heart. I mentioned that to Roberto and I think it's true."
Whelan also told Martinez that Liverpool are in a "disturbing" situation.
"The club have great supporters, but the place is a morgue, a desolate place, without heart, all I can say is what a shame for their supporters," he said. "The club needs a management structure, it needs a boardroom filled with the people running the club. When we went there, there was Alan Hansen welcoming people, it was a bit embarrassing to be honest, although he was doing his best."
The 38-year-old Spaniard, who is also on Aston Villa’s shortlist to replace Alex McLeish, has been in charge of Wigan since 2009.
But Martinez is not Liverpool's only managerial option, with the club making inquiries about at least four managers based in England and overseas. Andre Villas-Boas, who was fired by Chelsea in March, has also been widely linked with the Anfield job as John W Henry, Liverpool’s principal owner, targets a younger and more progressive manager to mount a challenge for a top-four finish next season.
"What we don't want is to choose quickly or choose because there's a time pressure. It'll be about finding the right person who can do the best job," Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre said.
"We have to go through a process where we assess them and understand more than what they have achieved on the pitch. What are their characteristics? How are they with players and all the different elements of a football club? It is not as simple as looking at an individual who has achieved something and say, 'He is the right guy.'"
The 38-year-old Martinez has impressed during his three years at Wigan, guiding the Latics to safety in the Premier League this season following a stunning run of form towards the end of the campaign that included victories over Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle. He has been continually tipped by Wigan owner Dave Whelan to manage at the highest level and feels ready to make the next step in his career after turning down the opportunity to take over at Aston Villa a year ago.
"I knew that the day would come when this happened, so it wasn't unexpected, he is a good manager so I am not surprised a club like Liverpool want him," admitted Whelan to ESPN. "You have got to regard Liverpool as a big club, so I told Roberto that I wouldn't stand in his way, it was up to him to decide, and I shall await his decision, it is up to him and Liverpool now. I can imagine he will want to manage such a big club but I would willingly keep him if I could."
"He only signed a new three-year contract three months ago, so yes ... I would be due compensation, but I would rather have Roberto than the compensation."
Villas-Boas is even younger than Martinez, at 34, but proved himself at Porto by winning four trophies in his only season there before being lured a year ago to Chelsea. He was sacked by the Blues in March but still has a reputation as one of the most promising managers in Europe and is the leading candidate for the vacant managerial position at Italian side Roma.
"His footballing philosophy and his style of play fit. He proved he could win things at Porto," former Liverpool winger John Barnes said. "He was at the right club at the wrong time with Chelsea. There were a lot of problems for him there because of the older players. He is a proven manager and he would be coming in to a humbler squad than the one at Chelsea if he came to Liverpool."
"He will get backing from the players. They will be eager to learn and listen to his plans. I think if it is going to be him he could do a good job at Liverpool."
But Martinez is in pole position to land one of the most prestigious jobs in English football after Liverpool legend Dalglish was dismissed on Wednesday as he faced the consequences for the club’s poor performances in the league this season, leaving the club to search for a fourth boss in two years.
Liverpool's priority will be re-establishing themselves as a Premier League force by sealing a return to the top four and Champions League qualification.
Dalglish is the latest senior figure to leave Anfield in recent weeks, following the exit of the director of football, head of sports medicine, and communications chief.
"They were decisions made because of this plan to go forward, because there was a belief those individuals weren't good enough to take it forward at that time," Ayre said. "The idea that all these people are leaving and there is a crisis is nonsense."