Mahesh M.

LFC manager search: Roberto Martinez in profile

We continue our look at the frontrunners for the LFC manager’s job. Here we profile current Wigan boss Roberto Martinez.

To read our profile of Andre Villas-Boas, click here.

Roberto Martinez

Roberto Martinez is reportedly one of the front runners to assume the role of the next Liverpool boss. While at first I was initially a little uncomfortable with the idea of Martinez being our next boss, I find myself warming to the idea. Though he may not be of the same class of say, Klopp or Benitez at present, he undeniably possesses the potential ability. The purpose of this article is neither to promote or demote the idea of Martinez becoming our next manager, rather I aim to lay down the facts in as abject and unbiased manner as possible, letting you readers be the judge.

Roberto Martinez: Till Now

Roberto Martinez arrived at Swansea initially as a player-manager in February 2007 with no prior managerial experience. However, since this transfer happened after the transfer window had slammed shut, he could not register himself to play for the team. Although initially he wanted to prolong his playing career, he felt that he wouldn’t be able to fully commit himself to both duties and hence retired from football and became a full time manager. And thus started his foray into the managerial side of football.

With Martinez in charge, Swansea lost just once in 11 games that year, giving them a chance of clinching a play-off place on the final day of the 2006–07 season, but missed out following a 6–3 defeat at home against Blackpool. 2007-08 was his first full season in charge of the Swans. He was crowned the “Manager of the Season” after leading the Welsh side to the top of the League One, gaining promotion into the Championship. Though his debut in the Championship began with a loss, the Swans soon found their feet, finishing the 2008-09 season with just 10 losses. Nathan Dyer and defender Ashley Williams were his most notable signings.

In the summer of 2009, he moved on to the Wigan job, vacated by Steve Bruce, taking 4 of his assistants with him from Swansea. In his first season in charge of the Latics despite wins against Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea at the DW, they finished the season with the worst goals conceded record in the league. This was a result of heavy defeats against Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal, and to Chelsea. Wigan finished that season 16th with 36 points.

The next season, 10/11, saw Wigan finish 16th again after winning on the last day of the season although this time they conceded lesser goals than the previous season. The end of the season saw Aston Villa sniffing after Martinez to replace Gerard Houllier; however Martinez felt that his loyalty lay with Wigan and turned down the offer.

Most recently, the 11/12 season, after a decent start to the campaign, Wigan endured an eight game losing streak which left them at the bottom of the league at the end of October. After an indifferent season till February, at which point of time they were languishing in the relegation zone, Wigan’s fortunes suddenly turned and they finished the season strongly, winning 7, drawing 1 and losing just 2 of their last 10 games to secure another season in the top flight.

Managerial Philosophy

Roberto Martinez is well known to be tactically astute. He is largely appreciated for his success in keeping Wigan in the top flight despite working on a shoe string budget. He has been commended for continuing to play with positive attitude and formations in spite of continually being relegation candidates. The Spaniard is the only manager in the Premier League to consistently play the 3-4-3 formation. The 3-4-3 under Martinez first made its appearance in a 8-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea 09-10 season. While it was temporarily binned, Wigan’s stay in the Premier League this season is largely attributed to their shift to the 3-4-3 formation.

The 3-4-3 is a very interesting formation in how robust and malleable the formation is. It can also be used in a number of ways, say like the counterattacking way in which Napoli use it or the high pressing way in which Wigan used it this season. 3-4-3 requires a very athletic midfield which presses deep in the opposition half along with the forwards to limit the opposition and win the ball early in the opposition half. Without a mobile and athletic midfield which has a high work rate playing 3-4-3 is suicidal, as was seen with Inter Milan and their experiments earlier in the season. The 3-4-3 is often criticized for its defensive susceptibility, while in reality it isn’t. True, it has narrower defence but its success is determined by the cleverness of the player movements. Say a team breaks from the wings on the right side, the right sided defender goes in to cover the attacking winger while the central defender goes on to occupy the spot left by the right defender, the left sided defender covers the the winger coming from the left while the DM drops into the space created by the left defender forming the conventional back 4, the 2 wingbacks meanwhile being naturally faster drop in centrally in the place of say 2 holding midfielders or wherever they are required.

Offensively, it gives the opportunity to play the ball out of defence as a conventional offence has only 2 forwards against 3 defenders. The formation provides the extra man in all parts of the pitch and hence theoretically the opposition can’t press you better than your ability to retain the ball. The 3-4-3 is such a good foil for teams trying to play a pass and move brand of football simply because the man on the ball has more options for passing and the ability to retain possession is higher. The 3-4-3 generally is played with a central striker who is good in the air and 2 secondary strikers who look to combine with the midfield in attack. The real width is provided by the wing backs who aim to overlap and provide crosses. The 3-4-3 can be morphed into a 5-3-2 when facing pressure. Another plus point of this 3-4-3 is that it is unusual and the opposing team faces difficulties in countering it as it is different to what they are used to and calls for a total tactical alteration. Their inability to adapt to this new challenge was the prime reason why Newcastle lost 4-0 to Wigan.

The best part of the 3-4-3 formation is how well it can potentially suit Liverpool. We have Enrique and Johnson as wingbacks and both of them are astonishingly good going forward. We also have Andy Carroll who can lead the line so well. As seen at the end of last season, he can terrorise defences with his sheer physical presence. Lucas has such a good reading of the game and at times inhuman positional sense that he would fit the 3-4-3 very well and then we have Suarez who thrives on passing football. The 3-4-3 seems almost a ready fit for Liverpool. Martinez and his 3-4-3 would be an interesting experiment indeed.

There were doubts being cast on Martinez’s ability to attract players. If we look at the supposed new structuring of the club, the player recruitment seems out of the manager’s purview with the new DoF set to be in charge of scouting, and the manager only having a say in the final stages. So with a well-known footballing figure as DoF, we can still expect to attract talent.

Another point being raised about Martinez was his lack of experience at handling “big” clubs. I think here we need to be realistic. We are a team very much in transition and cannot attract the very elite of coaches at this point of time. It would hence be prudent to obtain the services of a coach who is promising and has a clear vision in mind. I would also be difficult to find an experienced coach who would be willing to work with just the training part of things and have little say in recruitment.

AVB is preferred over Martinez by some people on grounds that he has led the team to titles before and has experience coaching Chelsea. It would be prudent to remember that Porto won the title again this season, now without AVB, and were knocked out of Europa League by Man City.

Martinez has been credited with inspiring his players fight and retain their position in the top flight while AVB failed to build trust with his players. Just because Martinez is inexperienced at handling bigger players does not mean that he will fail at it. Every manager starts small before making it big. Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger all were relatively obscure when they took up their respective jobs. While I am not siding with either AVB or Martinez I find the reasons with which Martinez is being rejected baseless. The appointment should take place based solely on what they have to offer and how good they are at it, not their past achievements.

With that I sign off on my report on Martinez. So what do you readers think? Can Martinez be the man for the job?

I am diehard Liverpool supporter and love when we play beautiful attacking football. The technical and tactical aspects of the game attract me the most. I hope we get back to the top of the footballing world where we rightfully belong at the soonest.
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  • don

    these were the same things people said about roy hodgson …. till he set foot in anfield and went bust …. kenny too didnt do any better…. now roberto martinez??????? we are going in circles ….

    • liverpoolfan1970

      Surely you can see there are MAJOR differences between Roy and Roberto? The UK London media, all of whom are friends with Roy, were carrying his water. Roy is not someone you’d call “tactically astute.”

    • red66

      Dalglish was an exceptional improvement on Hodgson as there was no fear of relegation with him, and we had two great domestic Cup runs (winning one and finalists in the other) and in the process earning a Europa League place. And although not considered success by FSG Dalglish was more successful than Hodgson.

      • zuggs

        I really hope I am wrong but I have a sneaky suspicion that FSG hold physical attraction and charisma higher than they do winning smaller trophies, I’m not saying its at the top of the agenda but it could be in the criteria, its been used in politics and proven to pull in support…… I know its a ridiculous idea, and I hope its wrong!

      • redatheart

        And yet, relegation form was exactly what we produced in the final third of the season. If I’m not mistaken, even Wolves had a better record than us during that time. That’s not a defence of Roy by the way – just a reality check for those who are rewriting history already viz-a-viz KD.

    • Daryl Cavanagh

      Come on then Don, who would you suggest?????

  • Natsu

    A well written article that sums up about Martinez , but the article is much stressed on 3-4-3 formation , n how the player positioning n player work rates are needed to implement it. With the author’s conclusive prediction that Liverpool would probably be suitable for 3-4-3, as the writer himself stressed that there is a need of athletic midfield n with the current squad of players I very much doubt it. And most of the people doubt Martinez on his change in tactical approach if needed which I think he lacks n quite a few games are complimentary to this fact, for eg 8-0 against Chelsea n heavy defeats from Utd , arsenal etc. I do appreciate Martinez for his management approach n working on low budgets but having experienced the era of Roy I doubt fans would back him up. Personally what I wouldn’t mind Martinez to be the manager , but what Liverpool fans have been through past 2 years n reading through quite a lot of opinions , it would be very hard for Martinez to do what Wenger , Sir Alex ferguson did n especially during this era….. If FSG stick with their pre stated opinions on young managers , I’ll put my odds on AVB

  • Ziggi

    How can you compare Roberto Martinez with Roy Hodgson ?

    Roberto Martinez is young & very talented Manager while Roy Hodgson is at his end as manager.

    Why can Top class Team buy very talented players from Low teams and they become Top players in their team why should it be different with Managers.

    Look at what Roberto Di Matteo did with Chelsea after he left West Brom.
    Same can be said with Sir Alex Ferguson In Man Utd and Guardiola when he was Manager of Barcelona after only being Manager of Barcelona B and now his assistant manager Tito Vilanova is next Manager of Barcelona.

    Why is that English top team only want managers how done well like Klopp & Frank de Boer instead of doing the same as Dortmund and Ajax give young talented manager a chance.

    This are few clubs which gotten a very talented managers who have not won anything but gave them lot:

    former job: Barcelona B
    Titles won : La Liga (3), Copa Del Rey (1), Supercopa de Espana (3),
    Champions League (2), UEFA Super Cup (2), FIFA Club World Cup (2).

    Jurgen Klopp
    Former job: Mainz 05
    Titles won: German Championship (2), DFB-Pokal (German Cup) (1)

  • Zander

    I agree. I strongly disagree with Martinez as manager and think we should get Martin O’Neill as manager. I don’t think we can ask for anyone more qualified for the job than O’Neill.

    Pay up his contract with Sunderland and let the rebuilding begin…

    • red66

      ONeil would be an interesting consideration. I do not think he would leave Sunderland as he would have seen LFC’s 2011-2012 campaign as being successful and had he been in Dalglis’s shoes would have expected
      more time as LFC manager for the Cup and Europa League football.

  • Ha7u3

    Reading different opinions, i am warming to the idea of the type
    manager FSG is targeting, who may not be the big name like Guardiola or Klop. But as the
    opinions sugges Guardiola or Klop wan unknown too before they got their job and
    started to win big. However,

    I would hope FSG give our future manager
    Carragher a role as some type of assistant, so, he can gain more varied managerial knowledge
    and take over when the time is right and would hope maybe he can be our
    Guardiola. I may be dreaming, but I still hope Liverpool will again dominate
    premiership and europe. Hope my dream becomes reality in the very future and if a player like
    Carragher/Gerrard is there to oversee such dominance, even better.
    Reading different opinions, i am warming to the idea of the type
    manager FSG is targeting, who may not be the big name like Guardiola or Klop. But as the
    opinions sugges Guardiola or Klop wan unknown too before they got their job and
    started to win big.

    I would hope FSG give our future manager
    Carragher a role as some type of assistant, so, he can gain more varied managerial knowledge
    and take over when the time is right and would hope maybe he can be our
    Guardiola. I may be dreaming, but I still hope Liverpool will again dominate
    premiership and europe. Hope my dream becomes reality in the very future and if a player like
    Carragher/Gerrard is there to oversee such dominance, even better.

  • Ray Hyland

    Enrique, astonishingly good going forward…come on now

  • GC

    martinez is a top manager but wouldn’t fit liverpool because, what many people dont realize, is that much of his success comes from having a long-term plan in place and the unwavering backing and support of his owner and fans. the late season surge came as no surprise to wigan fans but liverpool fans would have had him fired every day from mid-october to late january (remember wigan were bottom for most of this time). martinez will move to a top club eventually but liverpool this season would be an awful move, they are simply too focused on the short term and my guess is he’d be fired long before he’d have the chance to form the team in his image and have them playing his brand of football.

    • MMB

      Clever post. Totally agree.

  • red66

    A good profile on Martinez. And some good discussion from the posts. The concern is what is not being said in the manager profile articles. FSG in their recent actions dave shown they want a quick profit turn around on the money the money they have invested. This view although demanding a top 4 epl position and champion’s league football (as the standard for FSG success), has failed to take into consideration LFC are 34.7 million on average behind Man C, Man U, Chelsea, and Arsenal in player resources investment.
    From what we have also seen FSG does not look to be considering remedying this any time soon. The 3-4-3’s and the 2-4-4’s of the schemes are valid and good insightd, as stated a good article. Yet without the 34 million player resources investment a top 4 epl possition consistently is out of the question. Of much more important concern is who will FSG keep from the current squad, who will FSG acquire to strengthen the squad, and will this 34.7 million we lag behind the teams we will consistently have to compete with for a top 4 epl position be addressed by FSG.
    These are the big questions that will have to be answered by FSG. Bring in the
    re-incarnation of Shankly, Paisily, Moran, or bring back Benetiz or add anyone your football heart desires; without the necessary money to compete for the FSG standard (top 4 epl and Champion’s League football) no manager will meet this FSG standard. This past season showed LFC does not have the player resources invested necessary to compete and meet this standard.
    IMHO I can not see FSG paying the money necesary or giving the new LFC manager the time that will be necessary to get the club into a position to consistently compete for a top 4 epl position. All things being equal as American business sports investors they knew they wanted a top 4 epl finish and would have also known the assets and investments of the teams LFC were competing against for this. And although LFC lagged behind some 34 million on average FSG did not address this.
    I certainly hope I am wrong IMHO.

  • Catch-22

    He speaks good English, and is very articulate as well. But what I find disturbing is the fact that he seemed to be sleepwalking through the better part of the season only to be jolted awake when he stands on the brink of relegation – not once but 3 years in a row.

    • redatheart

      Me thinks you are missing the point a little bit here Catch-22.. With extremely limited finances at his disposal he somehow manages to get his players performing well above their potential (a feat that naturally takes a bit of time to get going, especially when he loses his best players every year) and that is testament to his managerial skills. Wigan would have been relegated in all 3 of those years under just about anyone else and I am more and more convinced that his tactical awareness, his eye for uncovering unheralded gems in the global transfer market, and his unwavering belief in progressive, possession football, make him a very viable candidate in my opinion. No more dinosaurs or has-beens please!

  • Redblooded Male

    John W Henry should take a leaf out of Dave Whelans’ book & be more communicative via any platform, be it Sky Sports News, ESPN, LFC TV, Twitter etc . As this lack of info is torturous. All we are hearing is various managers ruling themselves out. Martinez is non starter, his appointment would be the equivalent of Ed Miliband leading the Labour party when everyone wanted/expected his more distinguished, respect commanding brother David Miliband (sorry for the political analogy). He doesn’t even have any clout in his native league, & would’nt attract La Liga types, unlike Rafa! The only thing we want from Wigan is Moses, Diame, or possibly Maloney. If RVP leaves goons coupled with Bale & Modric fleeing Spurs, we could actually make it next term if we get the manager issue right.

  • mario

    Is it worth the gamble? Depends on four questions:
    1) Is 4th place required by the end of the 12/13 season?
    2) How much are FSG prepared to give a new manager to achieve that goal?
    3) Which is more important ‘potential’ or ‘experience’?
    4) How will the DOF support the new manager?

    Blimey, this club drives me crazy!


    Dose not have the experience to take on the Liverpool job, no disrespect to Martinez but why would any one sack a manager of Dalglish s caliber to employ Roberto, it just dose not make sense, starting to look like F.S.G did not even give serious thought to a replacement of Kenny before sacking him.

  • Karl

    In my opinion Martinez has consistently shown himself to be tactically astute and able to get more than he should from players when operating on a limited budget. He has against all odds for many seasons ensured Wigan remain in the top flight. Before anyone says anything remember this is Wigan and it is probably a bigger feat to keep them up than to get Liverpool to 8th with a fortunate cup win against a lower league team who only lost due to penalty nerves, or to a final only for the team to not turn up for the first hour.

    Imagine now, him with a reasonable budget and his obvious ability to instill self belief and determination into a team of betterhigh quality etc etc. players. OR…..

    With a lownon existent budget he would appear to have the ability to identify and obtain cheaper but still quality players.

    If he is chosen then I believe he will be a good choice and I was one of the few who saw the class of Lucas when many were too busy bemoaning him – though those people are harder to find than Nazis in Berlin post 1945.

    That said however it is IMPORTANT FSG realise that to make the team and club great once more will take more than a season, that trophy winning teams still get high exposure around the world, players want to win trophies, fans want days out. stability and longevity of management is the key in all business. It is up to them to generate off the field wealth and strength so they can revel in the glory of bringing great days out to fans and medals to players. Do this and more will come to play and watch. Are Arsenal growing their fanbase worldwide by a perennial finishing in top 4 and poor CL perfomance – I think not

  • Southern Steve

    The best combination, in my opinion, would be Martinez with Carragher as his assistant. Let’s be realistic: The world’s top managers do not want to manage Liverpool, who have become a middle-of-the-road team. FSG are looking for a cultural fit and someone who can lead Liverpool to glory for decades to come. Martinez has a lot of great qualities:

    – A superb tactician who builds systems around his players and doesn’t force players to match a system.
    – A proven man-manager who can get the best out of all his players.
    – A skilled, gracious, intelligent, and passionate communicator. You can’t help but love his leadership and his team.
    – The ability to spot undervalued talent.
    – A transparent passion for success.
    – Insisting on a style of play that is exciting and fun to watch.

    Writing him off because he managed Wigan is just ridiculous. A few years ago, Wigan was a non-league team. They are a small market somewhere between Liverpool and Manchester and with a miniscule budget. Every year, their top players are stolen by the big-name clubs and they must rebuild the team. It takes time to do that (half a season), but Martinez has managed it successfully three years in a row.

    I sense over the last couple of days that the fans are warming to Martinez, which is good news. He doesn’t need everyone’s support, but he does need some basis of support. If more players publicly support him, maybe that will overcome the hump. They have everything to gain by supporting a manager who focuses on players more than on systems.

    Living in the US, I can tell you that FSG is a top-notch organisation that is committed to success. They will make a decision they believe is best for the long-term financial success of the club. Not all fans will like it, but you and I don’t have hundreds of millions of our own money tied up in this. These owners are class, and I trust them to make the right decision. I just hope we give them the time and support needed for their plans to come to fruition.

  • Gilbert Lugo

    I don’t know is LFC squad are ready for 3-4-3

    Skrtel coates?/carra? Agger
    Johnson lucas/adam gerrard enrique
    Suarez caroll downing/bellamy

    Obviusly he would bring players to fit that tactits, could be some risky, but sincerly, it could be better some risks than continue like last season.

  • Daryl Cavanagh

    I do have severe doubts about Martinez, but it looks like it’ll be him or AVB. I cant see the new owners going for Rafa with their new management structure. He would want too much control for their liking.I cant see Klopp/Guardiola etc going for us without champs league.

    The premier league is a very different place now, we aren’t a top 6 club with millions to spend, so maybe an up and coming manager/tactically astute manager wheeler dealer manager may be the way forward.

    FSG need to act quickly though, the squad clearly needs a few signings and without a manager I cant see that happening.
    Whoever is at the helm, FSG are here to stay and we need to get behind the team and support whoever is in charge. Howver FSG must stand by their choice for at least 2 FULL years(minimum) changing your managers like you do your pants ISN’T the route to success. Remember Spurs before “Arry” came along. I support the team not the manager lets stop moaning and get behind the team this year

  • Chris

    Ferguson before Utd:
    St. MirrenScottish First Division (1): 1976–77AberdeenScottish Premier Division (3): 1979–80, 1983–84, 1984–85Scottish Cup (4): 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1985–86Scottish League Cup (1): 1985–86UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1): 1982–83UEFA Super Cup (1): 1983

    Plus he’d managed Scotland briefly. So not only was he already proved as a winner he had European experience.
    Martinez has on Division One and has no European experience so will be learning on the job, not ideal as mistakes will be made.
    That’s why ppl are nervouse about it.
    AVB has at least won a league, all be it not a tough one when your porto. His winner the Europa League will have given him great experience that Martinez just doesn’t possess yet

  • chrisjoneszero

    Excellent article. Very insightful and well delivered. Any chance of a Rafa profile.
    BTW I am very much for Roberto Martinez as the next manager.

  • Stuntman

    Great article, but fails to mention that Swansea play the way they do now because Martinez started that tactical ball rolling. I would love to see Martinez installed as manager with Carra somewhere on the coaching staff. I don’t see a lot wrong with our squad that a tactically astute manager, a goalscorer and a proper creative midfielder – is it beyond us to find the next Modric at a reasonable price – wouldn’t solve…..and moving Stevie G to the right of midfield. I’m not a big fan of Andy Carroll but still willing to be proved wrong – with Stevie on the right, we perhaps give him a few more years at the top level (let’s be honest, when fit and bar the Everton game, he has been very disappointing this season), we solve the right mid problem without any cash outlay and get our best crosser providing the big man with some ammunition in the games he plays as a starter or off the bench.

  • Robert Elgstrand

    Are you out of your f***ing mind?? Roberto Martinez as Manager for the reds will bring my beloved club down to the championship!

    Liverpool FC is my religion, and in that religion there is two gods, Shankly and Paisley, and I pray 1 million times a day to them to stop the madness of FSGs attepmt to hire that fart…

    Your thought of Carra, as an assistant I agree on, but not Martinez, please my gods please dont let FSG do this!

    Jürgen Klopp, Michael Laudrup or Brendan Rodgers are my three top contenders!