- Roberto Martinez is a former manager of Everton
- The 49-year-old Spaniard succeeds Fernando Santos
- Martinez exclaimed that he was thrilled to represent Portugal
Roberto Martinez, a former manager of Everton and Belgium, is now the head coach of Portugal.
The 49-year-old Spaniard succeeds Fernando Santos, who quit following Portugal’s World Cup quarterfinal loss to Morocco last month.
Following Belgium’s group-stage elimination in Qatar, Martinez announced his resignation as their coach after six years in command.
Martinez exclaimed that he was thrilled to represent one of the national teams with the top talent in the world.
“I am very excited to be here. From the first time I spoke with the federation president, I knew this was a sporting project that would excite me.
“I understand there are great expectations and big objectives, but there is a great team of people at the federation and I have great excitement that together we can achieve those objectives,” BBC Sport quotes.
Fernando Gomes, president of Portugal’s national football team, said that this was a crucial time for the team to have a new coach.
Martinez managed Wigan for four years, winning the FA Cup in 2013, before moving on to Everton for three years. He twice ended 11th in the Premier League and once finished fifth.
After being named Belgium’s coach in 2016, he guided the team to third place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the top of the Fifa rankings.
During Santos’ eight years in command, Portugal won the 2016 European Championship and the 2018–19 Nations League.
However, they only won one of their three group games in Qatar. Santos’ decision to bench striker Cristiano Ronaldo for the semifinal games cast a cloud over their campaign.
The 26 players who competed in the World Cup will be Martinez’s starting point, and Cristiano Ronaldo is one of them.
He holds that making judgments on the pitch will be a new approach. Some criticised Martinez for failing to gain more from the so-called “golden generation” of Belgian players, including Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard, and Romelu Lukaku.
Since their 2-0 loss to Morocco at the Al Thumama stadium, the mood inside and outside the team’s locker room was intense. It was almost too intense after the shocking outcome came four days after a fortunate win against Canada.
Defender Jan Vertonghen had just finished speaking on television when he said he preferred not to say what was on his mind. The 35-year-old centre defender did, however, voice one opinion.
Prior to the game, he responded to Kevin De Bruyne’s comments that the team was “too old” and Eden Hazard’s assertion that their defenders are not the fastest, and they know it.
There was conflict within the team and uncertainty about why some players were sent to Qatar.
The Belgium team was shaken by Martinez’s tactical decisions, fitness concerns for important players like attacker Lukaku, and obvious annoyance from others like goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Martinez’s devotion to a few players came at a high cost to him and the squad. The starting XI for Belgium’s match versus Morocco had an average age of over 30, making them one of the tournament’s oldest teams.
Before the team arrived in Doha, cracks surfaced during the training camp in Kuwait, but the problems date back to Euro 2020. Belgium had then won their three group games and defeated Portugal in the round of 16.
Sadly, it was Italy that knocked them out in the quarterfinals.