Is there any managerial appointment in football that isn’t a gamble? Moreover, there isn’t much of an argument to say Everton were spoilt for choice prior to starting their search for David Moyes’ successor.
The problems at Everton are well-documented: a lack of spending power compounded by the very obvious glass ceiling preventing them from taking the next step into the Champions League. You have to ask how many managers could do more than what Moyes offered, all the while competing with the teams who are consistently around or above them in the league.
Roberto Martinez has dignity and class. He has that distinct quality that allows him to get the best out of a poor team. Wigan may be FA Cup winners, but they were still below the standard of what would have seen off relegation last season. Everton are not a poor team by any means, as proven by the fact that Marouane Fellaini, Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka are regularly among the names linked with moves to some of the top teams in the league. As well as that, the surrounding cast of Kevin Mirallas and Nikica Jelavic have shown ability that would comfortably place them in a regular Champions League team.
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The problem for Martinez is that he’ll need to come in and get the ball rolling immediately; Everton are not in a position where they can afford to allow for slow starts and a period of adjustment. Where clubs around them may offer that to their new managers, namely Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham, there is a very real possibility that Everton could get swept away from the top six in England if they take their foot off the gas.
Martinez will also have to establish himself as a character who belongs at Goodison Park. For all the glass ceilings and lack of spending capability within the club, this is still one of England’s better teams – a position for which much is owed to the work of Moyes. Martinez, however, arrives from a team who battled relegation for the past few years and finally felt the burn of having played with fire once too many times. He’ll have to come in and convince the Everton squad that he is good enough to lead them on and keep them as competitive as Moyes did.
Importantly, Martinez is unlikely to have taken the post at Everton if he didn’t believe he was capable. He’s earned his stripes in English leagues with two teams who are far from the stature of Everton and now receives the opportunity to prove that he does merit a place among the top six in English football. As well as that, the Spaniard will bring with him a degree of flair football, having previously taken on the bold approach to turn Wigan into a far more attacking side and on occasion reaping the benefits. Who’s to say he can’t go well beyond his previous achievements with a squad who are considerably better than what he’s had at his disposal in the past? Everton are defensively very good, but adding more goals to their game could see them push on in a big way.
For all parties it’s a move that fits. Martinez obviously comes with the charm of his counterparts and compatriots in Spain, yet with the knowledge and experience of English football. It’s just a signing that makes sense more than anything. The gamble, naturally, is there. But that manner of discussion will arise whether it’s Jose Mourinho taking over at Chelsea again or Pep Guardiola moving from Barcelona B to the first team; there are no short cuts or easy options in football.
A young, ambitious manager taking over the reins of a top six team in England is exciting, both for the club and the Premier League product. It’s another hint at where football is heading, with so many clubs looking past the wily, veteran managers and opting for youth.
There are, of course, hints of the long term, as there should be, with Martinez more than capable of making good use of the team’s youth system. But fundamentally it’s also the drive and determination of younger managers that may now be lost on those who have done it all in the game. An energised and hungry Martinez can only be a good thing for Everton.
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