The announcement of Roberto Martinez as Belgium manager came as a bit of a surprise to most of us but in reality, it actually makes sense. Belgium needed a new manager and Roberto Martinez was one of the most high-profile currently without a job, so a match made in heaven?
Well since Martinez was sacked by Everton at the end of last season for poor results and less than entertaining performances you could understand why some Belgium fans are not overjoyed at the appointment. Mocking images from Wayne Rooney’s testimonial match against Everton pictured Romelu Lukaku in various facial expressions with what fans made out to be his reaction to the news that his former boss was now once again his manager. The fans reaction on social media to this would suggest that they believe Lukaku would not be thrilled at the prospect of a reunion despite Martinez signing the Belgium striker for a club record fee of £28 million.
Applause was given when Everton announced back in 2013 that Martinez would take over from David Moyes, after guiding Wigan Athletic to FA cup glory it was obvious that the Spaniard had talent and deserved his chance at a bigger club and Everton were the ones to give him that chance.
His first season at Everton was a successful one, just missing out on Champions League football and finishing above Manchester United, recording their first double over the Red Devils since 1970. Martinez promised to bring Europe’s finest competition to Goodison Park but despite finishing 5th in his first season the club backtracked finishing a disappointing 11th after never really recovering from a poor start to the season.
Despite taking Everton to two domestic semi-finals last season it was not enough to save his job as fans called for his sacking. When various Premier League jobs became available amazingly Martinez has not really mentioned for any of them, Southampton, Hull, Sunderland all changing managers in the pre-season. But Belgium is his new destination and will be looking to revitalise the country that went into Euro 2016 as second in the FIFA rankings only to be easily beaten by Wales in the Quarter Finals.
There is no doubt Belgium have one of the strongest squads individually. Players like Eden Hazard, Lukaku, Vincent Kompany, Tibo Courtois to name just a few but they have failed to fulfil their potential as a team. Looking back at the competition it really was a missed opportunity by the Belgians with the left-hand side of the draw wide open and Portugal, the eventual surprise winners coming from what looked the easy side of the tree.
Martinez’s first game in charge of his first ever international side will be a friendly against Julen Lopetegui’s Spain side who will play their first game, not under the management of Vincent Del Bosque. Their first World Cup qualifier is against Cyprus on September 6th in a group they should easily win with their main competition coming from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece in group H. Failure to qualify for the World Cup would surely spell a brief time in international management for Martinez, anything less than top of the group will put him under enormous pressure.
There is an argument for saying that Martinez would have suited the Hull managerial position over jumping into international management at such a big team. Hull fits the bill in terms of the pedigree of where he is right now and could have steered them to survival while maybe having a run in one of the cups but the former Wigan and Swansea manager wants to test himself in new waters.
As for playing style, Belgium did not exactly light up Euro 2016, their 4-0 win over Hungary an obvious highlight but the other games were drab affairs so Martinez has the chance to stamp his own mark over the players most of which he has seen a great deal of in the Premier League or even previously managed himself.
Belgium’s greatest strength is Chelsea’s Eden Hazard so you feel unlocking the best out of him will be the first thing on Martinez’s list. With so many high profile players there are not many positions that don’t have great players filling them. The team is there, it is up to the new manager to bring this Belgium side together so they can reach their potential.
Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Aleksandr Osipov.