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Roberto Martinez: The Chosen One

Roberto Martinez: The Chosen One

There’s this man with Catalan roots earning plaudits for his football management nous. In his playing days, he was a midfielder who earned some modest success. He speaks better English than some natives. He dresses like he’s the new young thing from Wall Street sporting well tailored suits and some pricey looking jackets/coats and brogues. He has a great take on the way football should be played and never compromises on his beliefs. He’s an optimist who sees the silver lining even when his teams are well beaten. Take a guess who I’m talking about. And no, it’s not Pep Guardiola.

In the last three seasons, for fans of Wigan Athletic there have been two constants in the summer months:  Roberto Martinez being linked to bigger jobs is one. David Whelan, the club’s chairman getting more news coverage than usual providing updates and singing his praises to high heavens the other. Whelan has been ridiculed as being something of a media whore who would always provide an easy sound bite or headline. Recently, he said Manchester United made a mistake in not appointing Martinez as Manager. There was the approach from Aston Villa which Martinez rejected. There was an approach from Liverpool before Brendan Rodgers (who profited from the groundwork Martinez carried out at Swansea) got the job. Last summer, Everton got their man after Moyes took the United job.

At Wigan, Martinez was hugely successful in that he ensured a team cursed geographically being more of a rugby town did not get relegated. He also insisted on his teams playing attractive football and was able to oversee a vast improvement in players who were then sold for big bucks who have struggled to attain the great run of form they hit under his tutelage. Victor Moses, Hugo Rodallega, Mohammed Diame and Charles N’zogbia among them. He even made Tom Cleverley look decent. His tactical astuteness saw his Wigan team beat Arsenal and Manchester United in the same week in April 2012. The United defeat of greater significance when one takes into consideration that United lost the title on goal difference that season in one of the greatest climaxes to a football season in recent history.

At Everton, with a better pool of players as opposed to Wigan he looks even brighter. The notion that Everton have traded up by appointing Martinez as Moyes replacement has been gathering steam. Think of your decent girlfriend breaking up with you? And instead of falling into a state of depression and sadness, you manage to bag a much more attractive one. Yes, that’s Everton fans right now.

On the final day of the transfer window, the consensus was that Everton had done the best business. Gareth Barry was brought in on loan and James McCarthy brought from Wigan. Marouane Fellaini who had looked out of place in Martinez’s slick passing outfit was sold to Manchester United for a couple of millions more than his recently expired release clause. Romelu Lukaku was also brought in on loan after falling out with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.

Martinez’s Everton look better than Moyes’s for one reason: he’s a proactive manager. Being proactive is more likely to earn laurels and rewards as opposed to being reactive. This Everton are built on adventure. Full backs bomb forward whilst Barry and McCarthy sit and cover the spaces left behind whilst keeping the game ticking. Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar provide the touch of flair whilst Lukaku does his best Didier Drogba impression. Ross Barkley also catches the eye with his ambidextrosity and willingness to take on opponents and shoot on goal earning comparisons with Michael Ballack and Paul Gascogine.

It also helps that Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin are remarkably solid at the back and consistent. It is imperative not to discount Moyes’s output in that he provided a great platform on which Martinez was able to build upon. This has helped him shatter the invisible ceiling Moyes imposed on the team. A list of their conquests includes big boys like Chelsea (In Mourinho’s first defeat in his second coming) and Manchester United (Beating them at Old Trafford for the first time in my lifetime). They have the fewest defeats this season (losing only to Manchester City) and Mikel Arteta declared them the best team Arsenal has played against at the Emirates all season. The steel of Moyes and the flair and tactical nous of Martinez is proving the perfect marriage.

After leading his Wigan team to the FA Cup and relegation in one week, Martinez is dispelling some of his biggest doubters. Mr. Whelan might just have been right in anointing him the chosen one.

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