They say marriages are made in heaven and irrespective whether you buy that theory or not there are times in life when one scratches his head and wonders, “you know it could have worked”. Pretty much the same holds good for Roberto Martinez; this time last year he was tipped by many to take over the hot seat at Liverpool. With Moyes making a much anticipated move to Old Trafford, the Everton board went ahead with Martinez as their choice for taking the club ahead. A lot of it could be down to winning the FA Cup but the fact remains that his name has been taken more than once when the topic is “bright young managers”.
What makes the move interesting is the difference between philosophies related to football. Roberto Martinez is from the new generation school of thought where the football is meant to be kept on the ground and passed around. Results are the end product but not the only criteria, beautiful football is the core essence. Everton on the other hand are quite an old school English team where flair plays a lesser role and a lot of success is built around strong defence. Therefore it’s not a surprise that some of Everton’s best players (Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Fellaini etc) have been on the defensive side. Some would even go to the extent of stating that it’s Everton who have made the Merseyside derby a drab affair but that’s an argument for another day. In comparison Roberto Martinez’s Wigan have made average players (Di Santo, Maloney, Kone etc) look world beaters on their day (ask Manchester City), it’s true that they have been battling relegation for most of last few seasons but credit should go to Martinez for sticking to his philosophy (of playing beautiful football) even in the face of adversity. And this is precisely what makes this affair intriguing and one which should be admired closely, unless you’re into rocky relationships (if you are then the Di Canio story is your cup of tea!).
There have been various stories about why Roberto Martinez rejected the Liverpool job or the vice-versa. For argument sake if we are to believe that Martinez did indeed reject the Liverpool offer, it would be interesting to explore the logic behind such a decision.
Table 1 Everton
Table 2 Liverpool
Everton have clearly enjoyed getting the better of their famous rivals in the last two seasons by finishing above them in the league table. For those wondering if it’s a flash in the pan, a look at the two graphs would indicate that Liverpool have been on a decline in terms of points accumulated since 2010. Everton on the other hand have mostly remained consistent chalking around 60 points on a consistent basis. A lot of this can be down to Liverpool’s financial situation and their inability to hold on to their best players with the likes of Alonso, Mascherano and Torres leaving for greener pastures. In comparison, the Toffees have had a stable squad for most part of last decade and they have made crucial additions (Fellaini, Jelavic etc) to ensure they remain competitive. Considering Everton have limited resources in hand, their transfer acquisitions have mostly been spot on. So does it really boil down to Everton’s stability over Liverpool’s falling standards?
Dempsey and Sigurdsson both rejected Liverpool in favor of Tottenham, neither may have made a significant impact at Spurs but the fact remains Liverpool are now after Spurs in the pecking order. Gone are the days when Champions League was a regular feature at Anfield, today it seems that without a substantial influx of cash this squad could really struggle over the course of a season and then there is the Suarez factor. Like him or hate him but the Uruguayan is arguably the best player in the Premier League, a move looks imminent either this summer or any time soon. The question is do Liverpool have someone who can replace Suarez? The answer most likely is NO and it is unlikely a player of that caliber will choose Liverpool over the Manchester/ London clubs. Surely Martinez would have thought over this bit while discussing with Mr.Henry and Co. One is led to believe that lack of substantial transfer kitty could have well played a big role in the decision making in addition to Liverpool’s inability to attract some of the world’s finest talent.
Are you ready to take the plunge?
The biggest question across most relationships is when is the ideal time to take the plunge? Invariably there are many instances when the two parties involved rush into a relationship and its over even before you have noticed it. Football is no different and in today’s time most leading clubs have burnt their hands by hiring young managers who have been touted as greats. Chances are that Roberto Martinez may have taken a step back and looked around to check the performance of young managers who’ve taken the plunge with a big club. Jurgen Klinsmann (Bayern), Marco Van Basten (Ajax) and Andre Vilas Boas (Chelsea) were touted as greats, but did not last more than a season at their respective clubs, that’s an indication perhaps that most young managers are lured by the reputation of these big clubs. These young managers continue to be plying their trade elsewhere but chances are that not many leading European clubs would be approaching them anytime in the near future.
If that is indeed Roberto Martinez’s thinking behind rejecting the Liverpool job, it deserves credit because here we have a man who has thought long term when majority of the world is looking for short term benefits. For all we know Martinez could go on to be Premier League’s Jurgen Klopp and form the parallel of Dortmund. In an interview prior to the Champions league final Klopp had spoken about how the likes of Kagawa etc had taken a step (switch to bigger clubs) early in their careers, surely the same could be applied to managers?
At Everton he gets a chance to build and at the same time be assured that immediate success is not a criteria, though am sure an FA Cup would go down really well with the Toffees supporters. Of course a top 4 finish and a crack at Champions league would go down well and get him the desired attention, heck even a Europa league could get him coveted (well it did for Andre Villas Boas). Therefore it’s refreshing to see a manager willing to work his way through and learn the tricks of the trade rather than being lured by short term gains. After all there are no shortcuts to success!