“Time for the Devil”Belgium is very proud. Roberto Martinez (Balaguer, 1973) became the “guardian angel” of “demons”. Former Swansea, Wigan and Everton coach has successfully used the talents of Hazard, De Bruyne and Lukaku … to empower the team. Bob is the captain of a team who spent three years as FIFA Ranking Leader. He is attending MARCA and the Euro is on the horizon … but he only thinks about “touching the sky”.
- What do you see when you look back?
- My story will be filmed in Hollywood and told to my grandchildren. It all started when I moved to Zaragoza when I was 16 years old, when I left Spain at the age of 21 to go to the UK and when I was 44 years old I came to Belgium. I’ve always been passionate about football, but I look back at my career and consider myself very lucky.
- And with 33 “springs” he became the coach of the Swansea player.
- I was more of a coach, but I held the record for a year to think I don’t have to retire [re]. In the UK the double number is more prevalent, but you quickly realize that they are incompatible.
- Let’s continue with his movie. Wigan was the hero, achieving the greatest “miracle” in recent FA Cup history.
- The FA Cup is the oldest club tournament in Europe. It is full of amazing feats and fuels the illusions of teams who can succeed without prior reasons for it. Wigan’s story could only happen in England. It is very difficult for a candidate not to win the final match in modern football. Another great story might be the story of the victory of Wimbledon over Liverpool.
Wigan’s story could only happen in England. It is very difficult for a candidate not to win the final match in modern football
- What has changed in these 14 years as a technician?
- In the beginning we are all very methodical. Little by little she realizes that the most important thing is for a player to be able to play his best and be part of a group that can win matches. There are many areas that are not in any manual or part of the methodology, such as the human part of a soccer player, but they are very important.
- In 2015, a year before arriving in Belgium, he declared he was “too young” to be a coach. What makes you addicted to the “Red Devils” yet?
- I never thought I was my age and after seven seasons in the Premier League, I would be ready for international football. The first thing that impresses me is the variety of talents this choice possesses. At Everton he had Miralas, Fellaini and Lukaku. I was very intrigued to see how such a different generation could have the same ancestry. But when you arrive you realize that this group is very particular to the nation. After what we live in Russia, we want to play another great tournament and help Belgian football to develop. This generation managed to be No.1 in the FIFA Ranking for three years in a country of 11 million people and a number of relatively low licenses. This commitment and consistency encourages you to stay longer than initially planned.
- Never miss out on a club level day in and day out?
- The first six months were very difficult. I wanted to work the same way I work in a club and realized it was a battle I couldn’t win. There is more room for maneuver in the club day in and day out. You have 60 sessions to prepare for the first game of the season. At the international level you have three sessions and there is no margin for error. The mode of action, even if it is rare, is much more intense. They are two completely different jobs, but I advise everyone to spend a little spell in international football. It changes the way you work.
- How important is it to be No.1 in the FIFA Rankings for three years?
- It gives you the opportunity to continue your business as if you were in a club and to positively impact future generations. It also helps you motivate players when the tournament comes.
This generation managed to be No.1 in the FIFA Ranking for three years in a country of 11 million people and a number of relatively low licenses.
- Belgium did not live up to expectations in 2016 and won the bronze medal in 2018. What changed with you?
- The key is to realize that talent wins a game, but does not make you successful in a big tournament. Belgium’s best ranking ranked fourth in Mexico 86. The talent of our players is indisputable, but we lacked group dynamics: how to compete, and deal with adversity … The most important thing that defines our adventure in the 2018 World Cup is not the bronze, but how we got there.
- They were the team to score the most goals in the World Cup, losing only four games since their arrival, but the setback in their debut against Spain served them a lot …
- We reached a critical moment after our fall in Euro 2016. That match with Spain made us understand that we have to change quickly and create a different style of play to glorify the great virtues that this team has.
- Belgium plays a lot, but she also knows how to run.
- Most of our players have been influenced by British football, where the transition is very important, but we do have a large set of records.
We arrived at a critical moment. After the first match against Spain, we realized we had to find a different style of play to glorify the great virtues that this team has.
- One of its greatest advantages is the unification of a nation in three languages and its division between Wallon and Fleming …
- My choice in 2016 was a long way off. It was not understood why a foreign coach was needed, but my neutrality reinforced the fact that all of my decisions are purely football. I have no contact with either party and we have created a high performance environment, which is what the team needs. It’s not easy, but this diversity gives you the opportunity for this team to represent a great model of society in Belgium.
- “You have to dream a big dream, 2021 could be our year,” he said on the Great League campaign.
- In modern football, it is very easy to go to a tournament without getting excited and seeing how difficult it is. This generation deserves an illusion. We have been number 1 in the world for three years. We will give everything so that the nation unites and sees in this team all the virtues of the Belgian people.
- Do you consider yourself the favorite with France and Portugal?
- No, this euro is very difficult logistically. We have concerns about not knowing what will happen with the COVID-19 protocols and the fact that I can play up to six out of seven home matches means my favorite is England. But the range is wide. In Russia 2018, it was the first four European teams and we should include Spain, Germany and Portugal. And also to Italy and the Netherlands, which did not participate in the World Cup and are at a great level.
The fact to be able to play up to six out of seven home matches means, to me, that the favorite for the European Championship is England.
- Do you think that bronze in Russia made you more famous in Spain?
- I think that even the World Cup was not very well known in Spain. I have spent seven years in premiership, but it is not pursued the same way. We received many samples of affection from the Spaniards who saw their second team in Belgium. I have very nice memories.
I think even the World Cup was not very well known in Spain, but after that many people watched their second team in Belgium
- In recent years he has been associated with Madrid, Para and La Rochelle. Until when is it seen in Belgium?
- I’m so bad at predicting. When I arrived, I was planning to stay for two years and go back to running the club. But Belgium and I have grown up side by side with a contract until 2022. We’ll see what happens. You always like this kind of rumor because it reflects your good work, but now all my focus is on this EUR that we have been waiting for for three years.
Belgium and I have grown up side by side with a contract until 2022. We’ll see what happens. You always like this type of rumor because it reflects your good work.
- 15 days ago he said Hazard was in “very satisfactory” form … and was low in front of Valladolid. What explanation do you find?
- What I have said is that he has been in the best medical condition since arriving in Madrid. Eden was extremely unlucky in the two seasons he spent in Spain. Neither Madrid nor Liga fan could see Hazard. It saddens me because he is one of the few players in the world who makes a difference, but for this he has to be in great shape. You also have to understand the person. I know Eden and I know she won’t give up. Be ready to be the great player we all know again.
Hazard was extremely unlucky in the two seasons he spent in Spain, but I know Eden and I know he won’t give up.
- I said something very coherent at the start of the cycle: Hazard needs 60 sessions to get in shape. Can you reach the Euro well?
- This is what we expect. He is our leader and he has a lot of influence. I hope that he does not have physical problems and that he can see the great Hazard who, unfortunately, has not been seen in Madrid. When you are a coach you want your players to be back from a year full of good emotions, but my experience tells me that sometimes, a player who has not had the minutes or successes he expects at club level can get very positive preparations for a great tournament. We have a long time until the euro and we must see its place and analyze all the details. We’ve got information about Eden since 2008, the medical service has been working with him for years … I’m so confident Hazard is back to the max. He’s a talented player, one-on-one magic … he doesn’t rely on great physical shape to make a difference. If he’s okay, he’ll have a big role.
I’m so confident Hazard is back to the fullest. He’s a talented player, one-on-one magic … he doesn’t rely on great physical shape to make a difference.
- Belgium was already a “vent” for Cortua at its worst in Madrid
- We try to establish long-term ties with our internationals. We are together through thick and thin. Thibaut has a great personality that makes him very special which made him the number one in the world. His beginnings at Real Madrid were difficult, but we knew that he would find solutions on a personal level to get the impact he had had in the past two seasons. It’s all too easy to trust Courtois and forget the occasional moments a player might be experiencing. We never doubt. He showed a very positive personality every time he came and was on the same level as he is now.
Thibaut has a great personality that makes him very special which made him the number one in the world
- He had Lukaku at Everton and became one of the top 9 players in the world.
- Lukaku is the top scorer. He has an instinct. Only large tokens resist their numbers. In Italy, it has matured and exploded, along with Conte. He’s been obsessed with winning a Scudetto since he was a kid.
- How do you see De Bruyne?
- Not only is it one of the best game makers in the world. The position and perception of the playmaker, that player who must slow the game to receive and execute a pass that could break any system, has changed. It’s not normal for his vision of the game to be accompanied by the speed with which he takes action, as well as being the first to press. There is no one like him, he is unique.
De Bruyne is not only one of the best game makers in the world, he has transformed the concept of the center
- Roberto Martinez invented Carrasco as a hotspot and Simeone imitated it.
- I am very happy with Yanik. He grew very quickly, perhaps very quickly, reaching the Champions League Finals twice. Passing through China helped him grow as a soccer player and he played a very important role in the Atlético Champion.
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