Canaries legend poised to become a Championship manager
- Credit: PA
Norwich City legend Russell Martin is set to be a Championship manager next season, with widespread reports that he is poised to swap MK Dons for Swansea City.
Still only 35 years old, the former Scotland defender had initially joined as a player in January 2019 and helped Milton Keynes seal promotion from League Two.
He stepped into his first managerial role when Paul Tisdale departed later that year and managed to steer the Dons just clear of relegation during the pandemic-affected season of 2019-20.
Martin set about implementing a possession-based style and led the Dons to 13th in League One last season, raising hopes of a promotion chase during 2021-22.
His summer signings have included the loan captures of young Norwich midfielder Josh Martin and talented Tottenham forward Troy Parrott on loan.
However, the Dons were forced to release a statement on Saturday lunchtime confirming that Swansea had made an official approach for Martin, stressing their "extreme disappointment" that the approach had arrived shortly before their first competitive game of the season.
That resulted in a slump to a 5-0 defeat away to Championship big hitters Bournemouth in the first round of the League Cup, with Martin avoiding media duties after the match.
The statement said: "MK Dons can confirm that an official approach has been made by Swansea City to speak to Russell Martin regarding their vacant managerial position.
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"To our extreme disappointment, this was received less than 24 hours prior to our first competitive fixture of the season.
"To minimise disruption to our players and our match preparation, it was decided that this would be discussed after today’s game.
"It was not our intention to release a statement until after discussions regarding the approach had taken place but given the intense media speculation, we felt it necessary to confirm the situation to both our players this morning and to our supporters before the game.
"The club will make no further comment at this time while we focus on this afternoon’s fixture."
Martin had been asked directly about the reports of Swansea's strong interest in a pre-match press conference and had stated he would be in charge at Bournemouth.
"Nothing really changes for me," he said. "Of course I've been in this situation already really early in my managerial career, where you get talked about.
"I've become really accustomed to being able to ignore the noise over the length of my long career because there's always noise.
"Outside my office on the wall, if you come down to Stadium MK, there's a huge thing that says 'ignore the noise, trust the process and enjoy the journey' which is something I live by.
"So nothing's changed for us. We've worked like absolute dogs getting ready, we've worked so hard in assembling a squad we're all really happy with.
"We roll on and keep going and make sure we are getting better and better all the time, and if something official ever happens then I'm pretty sure you'd know that really quickly.
"So as far as I'm concerned we're here to do a job and a job I really enjoy. After that, I don't know how long the journey will last with us, hopefully as I've said all the way along I'm planning to be here a long time, but in football, you never know.
"At this minute in time, I'm happy and with a group of people that I really enjoy doing it with."
The heavy defeat followed, with Canaries loanee Martin coming on in the 74th minute when the score was already 3-0 at the Vitality Stadium.
Reports had suggested a three-year deal had been agreed in principle with the Swans, who parted ways with Steve Cooper this summer after play-off defeat, as they prepare for a fourth successive season in the Championship since Premier League relegation in 2018.
Supporters of Swansea and MK Dons are waiting for further news but Swans caretaker boss Alan Tate appeared to acknowledge Martin was on the way after a 3-1 friendly defeat to Southampton on Saturday.
"The passing style he likes to play is synonymous with this club," Tate told the BBC of Martin.
"So hopefully he comes in and matches results with performances."
Martin made 309 appearances for Norwich between 2009 and 2018, playing a major role in two promotions to the Premier League, including captaining the 2015 play-off final triumph at Wembley.
The former defender made 125 appearances in the Premier League for City, the most of any Canaries player since the top flight's revamp in 1992.