IAN AYRE has laughed off claims from Dave Whelan that Roberto Martinez was offered the Liverpool manager’s job.
And the Reds’ managing director has hit out at the Wigan Athletic chairman, claiming his constant comments to the media throughout the Reds’ fortnight-long search for Kenny Dalglish’s successor had been “unprofessional” and “disappointing”.
Liverpool confirmed the appointment of Brendan Rodgers as manager on a three-year contract on Friday, with Ayre insisting the former Swansea City boss had always been the club’s number one choice.
This came after Fenway Sports Group, the Reds’ owners, had held preliminary talks with Latics boss Martinez, having been given permission to do so by Whelan.
“Our aim from the outset was to conduct a proper, thorough, search, and do it in the proper manner,” said Ayre.
“From our point of view, we did all the right things. We approached the clubs we needed to approach, and conducted ourselves properly at all times.
“It is disappointing, then, that Dave Whelan felt the need to run the kind of sideshow he conducted via Sky Sports News and various other media outlets.
“To be honest, I always thought John Bishop was the biggest comedian in the north west, but Dave Whelan seems to have taken that mantle over the last couple of weeks!”
Ayre was particularly irked Whelan’s suggestions that a formal offer had been made to 38-year-old Martinez.
“That is patently not true,” he said. “It is important to understand that we ran a proper search to find a new manager, and that part of that involved us speaking to a number of candidates.
“We make no secret of the fact we spoke with Roberto Martinez, but that is all we did. He is a great guy, and I can’t speak highly enough of his professionalism and conduct.
“But for his chairman to make suggestions like he has, and suggestions that just aren’t true, well it is disappointing to say the least. We can say with absolute certainty that the only person who was made any offer by Liverpool Football Club is Brendan Rodgers.”
Rodgers made an impressive start to life at Anfield, speaking openly about his plans for the club at his press conference.
And Ayre is in no doubt that the Reds’ extensive search has left them with the right man in charge.
“What was important was that both of us understand each other’s philosophy,” he added. “They have to be aligned.
“We couldn’t base (the appointment) on what we had seen and heard, we had to sit down and have discussions, face to face. Once we did that, and once we realised how closely our philosophies matched, there was an easy decision to make.
“Both Tom (Werner, chairman) and I were at the Premier League conference last week, and when we saw the honours board, and Liverpool’s absence from it, it really hit home.
“As a fan, as well as managing director, I am excited to take this club forward in a new direction, with a new philosophy, and hopefully to new success.”