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Wednesday’s Football Focus

| 29.05.2013

Roberto Martinez’s decision to leave Wigan Athletic has spun the manager merry-go-round again. Not only is a move to Everton now considered almost a done deal (1/5 with Coral), it has also opened up a fresh market: who will take over at Wigan?

It’s an interesting one. Assistant manager Graeme Jones has been installed by Coral as 3/1 favourite, followed by Rene Meulensteen at 4/1, Owen Coyle at 6/1 and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at 10/1.

Jones, a prolific striker for Wigan in the nineties, was Martinez’s number two at Swansea before moving with him to the north west and perhaps he will be travelling on again the short distance down the East Lancs road to Everton to continue his role as the Spaniard’s number two.

But one could well envisage chairman Dave Whelan wanting to keep the Wigan appointment in-house – he is very big on loyalty – and Jones, at 43, might also see this as the time to take a step forward in his career.

Meulensteen, a highly valued member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s coaching team until electing to leave Old Trafford rather than take on a lesser role under David Moyes, is another who may well feel it’s time to be the boss somewhere.

Former Bolton manager Coyle looks a good fit, too, but he has become a strong favourite to take over at Wolves in the past week. It is surely only a matter of time before Solskjaer gets a good job in English football and that time might be now if Whelan takes a shine to him.

Mark Hughes joining Stoke also appears to be inked in, judging by the markets. You can go long odds-on if you search around, but some bookies have already stopped betting on it.

Meanwhile, the Wayne Rooney saga drags on: will he stay or will he go? Former Manchester United players, notably Gary Neville, have been urging the troubled striker to stay and one would imagine that new Old Trafford boss Moyes will be persuasive once talks begin.

But from the outside looking in, it’s a tricky one to call, reflected by Coral pricing it up 5/6 each of two that he will start next season still in the red of Man United or leave for pastures new.

If he goes, it looks like it will be either Chelsea (11/8), Bayern Munich (7/4) or P.S.G. (9/4). A top German journalist said on television last weekend that Bayern would have absolutely nothing to do with a player who didn’t commit 100% to its fitness programme so that leaves London or Paris if Rooney decides that this time it really is goodbye.



Ben Woodward