Roberto Martinez frantically tried to prevent a managers' revoltafter reportedly suggesting that some of his top-flight colleagues werelittle more than Sir Alex Ferguson's 'loyalists'.
The WiganAthletic boss made early-morning phone calls to Blackburn Rovers bossSam Allardyce and Sunderland's Steve Bruce over comments made in aSpanish newspaper last weekend.
Martinez had alleged that the two were part of a managerial group sympathetic to Ferguson.
However, once the full implication of the comments began to sink inhere, the former Swansea City chief contacted the League Managers'Association, who issued a statement saying the Spaniard 'categoricallydenied' the quotes.
Both Allardyce and Bruce were happy to takeMartinez's calls and, according to sources, the explanation wasaccepted, albeit grudgingly.
Game over: This gesture by Rafa Benitez upset Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce last season and led to accusations of disrespect from Ferguson
The two slighted bosses remain on healthy speaking terms since theywere neighbours in Manchester and they spoke to each other later onWednesday, although the content of the call was not divulged by either.
THE AS Q&A INTERVIEWQ: Does Ferguson have as much power as Benitez says?A:Yes, very much so. He has spent his whole life here and that counts forsomething. They have just charged him for accusing a referee of notbeing fit enough and the truth is that they almost were apologising forit. They would have crushed anyone else. Ferguson has a group ofmanagers who are faithful to him. Steve Bruce, who played for him; SamAllardyce, who think he will be his successor at Old Trafford andothers. On the other side you have just Benitez and they are all givinghim such a hard time. Spanish speakers judge for yourself - click here to read the full Q&A transcript - it's 1,300 words long and has been on the AS website since Sunday. Only now has Martinez taken issue with it.Martinezfound himself under the spotlight following an interview with Spanishnewspaper AS on Sunday in which he was asked whether Ferguson exercisedas much power in English football as Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has attimes suggested.
'Very much so,' came the alleged reply. 'He has spent his whole life here and that counts for something.
'Theyhave just charged him for accusing a referee of not being fit enoughand the truth is that they were almost apologising for it. They wouldhave crushed anyone else.
'Ferguson has a group of managers whoare faithful to him. Steve Bruce, who played for him. And SamAllardyce, who thinks he will be his successor at Old Trafford - andothers.
'On the other side you have just Benitez and they are all giving him such a hard time.'
Centre of a storm: Wigan boss Roberto Martinez accused Sam Allardyce (left) and Steve Bruce (right) of being Fergie's cronies
Oncethe full ramifications of the outburst began to dawn on Martinez, hemade a swift call to the managers' union, the LMA, who said: 'WiganAthletic manager, RobertoMartinez, has categorically denied makingthe comments about Sir Alex Ferguson that have been attributed to himin a number of media reports.'
However, the Spanish newspaper wasnot making any plans to issue a retraction last night and the reporterin question was standing by his story.
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