‘What Whelan said is disappointing,’ says Liverpool's Ayre

AFP, Tuesday 5 Jun 2012

Liverpool chief takes swipe at 'comedian' Whelan

Ian Ayre
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre (Photo: Reuters)

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has hit back at Dave Whelan after the Wigan chairman criticised the Reds' handling of their search for a new manager.

Ayre is angry that Whelan went public with details of Liverpool's interest in Wigan boss Roberto Martinez before the Anfield club eventually hired Brendan Rodgers from Swansea.

Whelan claimed Liverpool had offered Martinez the job as long as he was willing to accept a director of football working above him.

But Ayre insisted Rdogers was always their first choice and responded by taking a swipe at Whelan's constant appearances in the English media.

"Our aim from the outset was to conduct a proper, thorough, search, and do it in the proper manner," Ayre told the Liverpool Echo.

"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 (stand-up comic) 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!"

Liverpool's American owners, Fenway Sports Group, were linked with a host of managers after they sacked Kenny Dalglish last month and some critics suggested they should have spoken to just one target rather than trying to conduct interviews with several candidates.

That process was initially said to have convinced Rodgers to snub Liverpool's interest before he later changed his mind, but Ayre believes it was right to conduct the most comprehensive search possible.

"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," he said.

"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."

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