So it looks as though Roberto Martinez is set to be the man to take over at Everton. After a bittersweet season, in an FA Cup victory was immediately followed by relegation, the Spaniard has called time on his Wigan career, telling Dave Whelan this week that he will be leaving the club. If Everton are to snap up Martinez, then it will be a smart move on their part.
For many, the jury is still out on Martinez. He is a manager that has steered his team to the Championship after all. Regardless of the detrimental and in some cases uncontrollable factors that have contributed to Wigan’s downfall, it remains a stick for many of his detractors to beat him with.
But the best managers learn from their experiences, be they positive or negative. Let’s not forget, a young Arsene Wenger was relegated in his early days at AS Nancy, and the current flavor of the month Jurgen Klopp was also relegated in his time at Mainz. But this didn’t defer the interest of bigger clubs, for both clearly had that something special.
Martinez, you could say, falls into that particular category. He developed a sterling reputation that far outweighed his achievements in the game long before Wigan’s FA Cup Final victory. Aston Villa and then Liverpool have actively pursued his signature in seasons gone by, whereas at Everton he is clearly well thought of too. Chairman Bill Kenwright has apparently been a long-term admirer of the manner in which Martinez conducts himself.
And so he should be, for there is a lot to admire about Martinez. The Spaniard is a thoroughly engaging character, charismatic in his dialect and noticeably passionate about his work. He is a studious individual who is renowned for his attention to detail and obsessive analysis.
He is a fearless character too, and this is reflected by the manner in which his teams play the game. Wigan operated with an attacking swagger under Martinez. He implemented a possession-based, cavalier style which has in turn provided onlookers with some first-rate entertainment.
As with any manager however, he has his deficiencies. Perhaps the most obvious being his Wigan sides inability to eradicate basic, defensive errors. The Latics conceded more goals in the last campaign than any other Premier League side.
But is this an issue that is likely to re-emerge at Everton? Probably not. Martinez will be inheriting a far superior crop of players at his new club. Looking at the defence in isolation, he will have arguably Europe’s best left back at his disposal in Leighton Baines, as well as England’s standout centre-back in Phil Jagielka.
Within the coaching staff, the likes of Alan Stubbs and David Weir are likely to be given much more significant roles as part of the new regime. Excellent defenders in their day, you expect their input and all-round experience will be invaluable to the Martinez cause.
With the aforementioned personnel at his disposal, the back-line will be just fine under Martinez. Now, shifting the focus to an attacking perspective, Everton fans could be in for a real treat.
Under David Moyes, Everton were regularly accused of falling foul to a negative reflex. Often when the pressure was on, they would recoil into a defensive shape and freeze on the big stage. As a result, many supporters were calling for a more attack minded boss, one that would instill faith into his players to go out and put in positive performances on these big occasions.
With Martinez at the helm, you suspect they will get their wish. More often than not, Wigan have stood up under Martinez in the big encounters. Whether in crunch relegation ties or more recently, the FA Cup Final, they have always looked to attack their opponents in gallant style.
Tactically too, Martinez might have an edge on his potential predecessor. He has showcased a variety of systems in his time at Wigan, with his specific tactical deployments key in Wigan’s FA Cup triumph.
His tactical nous was experienced first hand by many Everton supporters, as his Wigan side completely nullified Everton in the FA Cup quarterfinal back in March. That before cutting them to tiny blue ribbons with some devastating attacking football Wigan were deservedly applauded off the pitch that afternoon.
It was a particularly classy touch by the Everton supporters and not something you see much of in the modern game. It spoke volumes of the appreciation for the performance they had witnessed. So it some respects it is fitting that these fans that will be tasked with getting behind the man who masterminded a victory that broke their hearts not long ago.
If he receives the same unwavering support his predecessor was so gracious of, then expect Martinez, in time, to show plenty of class of his own.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter: @MattJFootball