Belgium had been searching for a new manager since the Euros with few rumors as to who they might hire. Roberto Martinez had been searching for a new job since leaving Everton in May. Despite that, the two had never been linked, but then all of a sudden on Wednesday, Belgium announced they had hired Martinez to be their new boss.
The move came out of nowhere. Martinez was not quiet about his desire to get back into management, but he was being linked to jobs in England. Hull City reportedly wanted to hire him, giving him another shot in the Premier League, while several Championship clubs reportedly sounded him out. He was even rumored to be the front-runner for the Atlanta United gig.
Meanwhile, Belgium were rumored to be interested in Belgians, which would make sense as 14 of Belgium’s last 15 managers have been Belgian. And yet now they’ve hired Martinez, a Spaniard who has done almost all of his management in England.
The move does make sense, though. Belgium have their golden generation and are absurdly talented. Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne lead a squad that can stand up with any in the world. But despite their incredible players, they crashed out of the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 in the quarterfinals. Wilmots struggled tactically and the team never looked close to playing to their potential.
Martinez is tactically astute and has shown that he can be somewhat adaptable to his talent, which he will need internationally. He’s also done a good job of making the most of his talent before. His biggest issues have been transfers and making outlandish promises that set expectations way too high. Transfers won’t be a problem with Belgium and the infrequency of international matches, as well as the Red Devils’ considerable talent, should make the expectations and rhetoric a non-issue.
All in all, it looks like Belgium made a good hire. Things should go well for Martinez too, with wins and even some time off to continue his TV punditry, which he has shown himself to be excellent at.