I could not quite believe my eyes when I read that Roberto Martinez has been appointed as the new head coach of Belgium.
Is this the same Roberto Martinez that completely and utterly failed to get the best out of a supposedly talented group of players at Everton?
Is it the same Roberto Martinez who continually had Wigan in a Premier League relegation fight, before actually getting them relegated?
It seems it is and Belgium expects him to succeed with their highly rated squad.
Martinez is all show and no substance
The Spaniard does produce an attacking brand of football, but it is at the expense of any sort of defensive solidarity. His Belgium team will win a lot of games, simply because they have quality players in their squad, but so did Everton though, obviously to a lesser extent.
Before Belgian fans know it the team’s defence will be passing the ball to each other and back to ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois like pros. They will also be taking unnecessary risks and being applauded by their affable boss from the sidelines, even if they give the ball away.
Vulnerable at the back
Belgium has the players to be a very good defensive unit. Courtois in goal, then the choice of the likes Thomas Vermaelen, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Vincent Kompany in defence.
When fit the quartet are all very good defenders and form the foundations of a very good Belgium team. That solid foundation lets the talented attacking players do their work further up the field.
Hopefully for Belgium Martinez’s philosophy of completely disregarding any defensive training will not rub off on the likes of Vertonghen and Alderweireld, who have a very good club partnership at Tottenham.
Belgium fans will hope that their formerly reliable defenders can stay reliable under their new boss. When Martinez arrived at Everton, the Toffees had a very solid defensive unit built by former boss David Moyes.
In fact, the previous campaign Everton had the third best defensive record in the top-flight. Over his three years in charge on Merseyside, Martinez set about attempting to merge that defensive record with good attacking play.
To his credit, it worked fantastically well in the first campaign, as Everton finished fifth in the Premier League, just shy of a Champions League spot. Over the next two years that solid defensive record disappeared and Everton were suddenly leakier than a sieve with extra holes.
Last season Everton would have had problems defending themselves against a granny with her handbag. Regular defeats by poor opposition exposed Martinez complete and utter lack of defensive nous.
The last two seasons have proven that although he was once a promising boss, he has to do some major work on developing an extremely weak part of his coaching skills.
Not the man to bring success to Belgium
The current Belgium team with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Vincent Kompany have been labelled the ‘Golden Generation’. That tag does not mean much if the team do not gain positive results, just ask England fans.
No doubt the current Belgium team has a lot of talented players. From the outside looking in Marc Wilmots never quite seemed like the right man for the job. The Red Devils needed a highly qualified gifted man-manager to get the best out of a bunch of big players, some with big egos.
Martinez struggled to do that on a lower scale at Everton, so I doubt he can get the best out of the highly rated Belgium players.
One thing that may stand Belgium in reasonable stead is the fact Roberto Martinez seems to have been more of a cup manager than a league one in his career. His biggest achievement was winning the FA Cup with Wigan back in 2013.
The Toffees reached the semi-finals of both the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup last season. There is a long way to before World Cup 2018, but the Red Devils are odds of 16/1 to win the trophy in Russia.
The Belgian FA took the bizarre decision to post the vacancy online prior to Martinez’s appointment. You always have to be careful of who you meet online. I just hope the Belgian FA knows what they are getting themselves into with the Spaniard.
Can Roberto Martinez get the best out of the Belgium squad?