Roberto Martinez will decide tomorrow whether or not he wants to be Liverpool’s latest manager. It seems like an easy decision for someone so highly regarded but is he really the man to oversee an Anfield rebuilding process?
It’s difficult to know what side of the fence is more comfortable for fans. Some say Martinez is a good manager with a lot of potential who plays football the right way. Others say he’s too young, too inexperienced and has little outstanding achievements on his CV to warrant taking over a club as big as Liverpool. Club captain Steven Gerrard was diplomatic about his potential arrival:
“I’m aware Roberto Martinez has been talking to the club but all I’ve heard about him is positive. If he is going to be the manager he’s got my full support.”
Both sides of the argument raise interesting points so perhaps the best way to see whether he’s the right man for the job is to weigh up the pros and cons of his impending appointment.
First the pros which show Martinez has a decent managerial record after spells with Swansea City and Wigan Athletic. He’s earned a reputation for playing attractive football and it’s the style of play he’s imprinted on his teams that the Anfield hierarchy will hope he can bring with him to Merseyside.
It was eye-catching football that earned him his chance to manage in the Premier League but he also left Swansea with an impressive win rate of 50% from 126 matches. His style was so well received that the club has strived to continue that precedent and many Swansea fans note the importance of Martinez’s reign as a precursor to the eventual success enjoyed by Brendan Rodgers.
So far so good and Martinez has continued this trend at Wigan. Having survived relegation twice he’s now a hero in Lancashire and with excellent support from Chairman Dave Whelan has managed to keep his team in the top flight using a style of play more akin to European competition than a relegation battle. Whelan told BBC Sport:
“I should not be saying how good Roberto is because I want to keep him. There’s no question he’s the best young manager in Europe.”
Perhaps Liverpool would be lucky to have him but just because Martinez is currently the flavour of month doesn’t mean things have always gone swimmingly for him. Overachieving with Wigan is all well and good but is surviving in the Premier League as impressive as it sounds?
The cons say no as Wigan have been in the Premier League for 7 seasons and should really have established themselves by now. The previous season Martinez just kept Wigan up on the final day and yet he was given legend status for effectively being the best of the worst. He followed that with an abysmal start to last season losing 8 straight matches early on and failed to win at home for 7 months. This included winning only 4 matches between August and February and led to Wigan being unanimously written off in their quest for survival. They also won only 5 home matches all last season and given the recent struggles experienced by Liverpool in front their own fans, is that something they will want to see continue next term?
Martinez was adamant that points would come if they kept playing the same way and ultimately he was right. Wigan edged away from the relegation zone and picked up some impressive results towards the end of the season but Liverpool fans will expect success, not be pleasantly surprised by it.
Most supporters are fairly underwhelmed by his imminent arrival and feel the club needs a more established man to take them forward. Considering the names being linked it’s understandable that Martinez would feel like a step down to many supporters dreaming of a blockbuster name.
The powers that be see it differently and Liverpool’s search for a new boss has seen them linked with up and coming managers like Frank de Boer, Brendan Rodgers and Andre Villas-Boas so clearly they want someone young to start a new era at Anfield. Experienced leaders like Pep Guardiola, Fabio Capello and Louis van Gaal have been considered but not pursued although the Dutchman is being linked with a senior role at the club, perhaps to babysit any eventual appointment.
It would appear the cons outweigh the pros. Like many Martinez has been criticised during his career but he’s also been applauded for the way he recovers from adversity. He’s admired for his persistence and his adaptability but he’s also struggled for large parts of the season so will Fenway Sports Group provide the same support Whelan gave him in order to turn things around?
Clearly Martinez’s style is attractive but his CV doesn’t compare with more impressive candidates so there are question marks over his ability to bring Liverpool the success they crave. Whether fans are for or against him, he’ll have a lot to prove at Anfield and will have to hit the ground running quickly to show why so much faith has been put on his aspiring shoulders.
Do you want Martinez as Liverpool manager? Are Liverpool making a mistake appointing the Spaniard? Should John W. Henry be looking for a more experienced leader?
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