On Friday night, Belgium under Spanish boss Roberto Martinez reached the World Cup semi-final by beating favourites Brazil 2-1. The performance was an outstanding one and boss Martinez deserves immense credit for getting the best out of a previously underperforming group of players.
Struggled at Everton
For a long time, Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has come across as a highly intelligent, tactically shrewd boss. However, for a couple of seasons as Everton boss, he looked like he couldn’t work a light switch.
The fact that Martinez was such an affable man made it hard to dislike him, even when the Blues were struggling. However, he did not help himself by some ridiculously positive interviews, especially using the word ‘Phenomenal’ seeming after every game, win, lose or draw.
It was a shame that the Spaniard left the Toffees in such miserable circumstances. However, in reality, the tactical errors he made and the things he could not spot that the rest of the world could made his position untenable on Merseyside.
His appointment as Belgium boss certainly raised a few eyebrows on the blue half of Merseyside. The Spaniard has surprised many people as Belgian boss, but his success should not be a major shock.
Martinez is a shrewd tactician
During his time at Wigan and his first season at Everton, Martinez showed that he is a very shrewd tactician. He is not clueless and knows the game very well.
In his first season at Everton, he looked set to return the Toffees to the top table of English football. He had an exciting young team at his disposal with the likes of John Stones, Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu all starring for the Blues.
Martinez is a boss who knows how he wants his players to play and when his players follow his instructions to the T, his teams can play some brilliant football.
The problem that Martinez had at Wigan, and to a certain extent at Everton was the quality of players at his disposal. The Toffees did have a decent number of talented young players, but they were always suspect to the more affluent clubs coming in and signing their stars. At Everton, his team also conceded an alarming amount of goals.
With Belgium, he has the quality of players needed to play his style of football. One significant factor is that Martinez has some top defenders and a quality goalkeeper to keep the opposition from scoring goals.
The defensive solidity means that the forward-thinking players can rely on the defence not to concede heaps of goals. The likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and of course Lukaku can concentrate on causing havoc at the other end of the pitch.
Now second favourites to win World Cup 2018
It is crazy to think that Everton sacked Martinez just over two years ago. The 44-year-old is now in the World Cup semi-finals, with his team Belgium now second favourites at odds of 5/2 to win the competition. Only last-four opponents France are shorter odds to lift the trophy in just over a week’s time.
Roberto Martinez winning the World Cup would be just rewards for a man who has found his level. Martinez is a nice guy, who with the right players can become a genuinely top boss.
The 44-year-old will no doubt return to club management one day. If he does, the players have to be top players, or he may well be unsuccessful once again. I have a feeling he may stick around as an international boss for the foreseeable future, though.
The international game suits the Spaniard. If he wins the World Cup with Belgium, he will become a hero and write his name in the history of football. Not bad for a guy who signed Antolin Alcaraz and Arouna Kone, twice!
Will Belgium win this summer’s World Cup?
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