Taking to the sidelines of the Camp Nou as manager of one of the world’s biggest teams – if not the biggest – is no easy task.
Pep Guardiola found it too much to handle after just three years on the job and needed a year off. Gerardo Martino, the current man at the helm, has also found the constant media attention overwhelming, saying: “There is a lot of publicity; everyone knows what happens, as far as India.”
There is one man, however, who seems cool, calm and, importantly, talented enough to handle the pressure of the biggest job in football. And that man is Roberto Martinez, currently showcasing his managerial talents at Goodison Park.
The Catalan, born in Balaguer in the west of Catalonia, has excelled in English football with a style not too unlike that of Leo Messi and co. Beginning his managerial career at Swansea, a club he previously captained, Martinez was only 33 years old. The Spaniard showed no signs, however, of finding the appointment overwhelming and, backed by the Swansea fans, his Swansea side lost just one of his first eleven matches in charge.
In his first full year, Martinez won three Manager of the Month awards for League One, won the Manager of the Year award and, most importantly, won the League One title with Swansea earning promotion to the Championship.
A year later in the summer of 2009, Martinez, then 36, take over at Premier League side Wigan. Despite having no experience of the top flight from his playing days and with the nickname of “El Judas” from some angry Swansea fans, Martinez showed no signs of being fazed and his Wigan side won their opening game of the 2009/10 season 2-0 at Villa Park. From there, Martinez became the master of avoiding relegation, keeping a Wigan side in the Premier League on a budget, with some attractive football being played at the same time.
The club was eventually unable to pull off another great escape last season and went down to the Championship. Martinez was a hero, however, having won the FA Cup for Wigan for the first time in their history, beating Manchester City in the final.
With all this history and still only 39 years old, Martinez replaced David Moyes at Everton. He brought his attacking style of play to the club and has since seen it blossom thanks to the more technical players at his disposal than he had during his time with Wigan.
All of this points to another promotion in the near future and one that would see him return to his homeland.
Having brought success to three clubs in a row as well as attractive football, Martinez has put himself in the perfect position to one day become manager of Barcelona FC. While he still surely has some unfinished business in the Premier League and an Everton side that is potentially on the verge of great things, Martinez seems destined for the Camp Nou, even if not for another several years.
The Catalan has already forged links with the club, having brought in Gerard Deulofeu on a season-long loan from Barcelona’s system.
The pressure from the media would also surely be a breeze for Martinez who knows how the media works better than most managers, having been a pundit for the BBC, ITV, Sky Sports and ESPN.
The Everton boss always comes across as intelligent as well as charming and certainly knows what to say when facing a television camera – something that past Barcelona managers, including Martino, have been much less comfortable with. So Martinez would certainly be comfortable speaking the FC Barcelona language – both in terms of knowing what to say as well as actually speaking in his native tongue.
And with a physiotherapy degree and a business management postgrad, there seems to be no limits to Martinez’s knowledge.
This is the best young manager in football right now. And his story so far points to a Catalonian homecoming sometime in the not too distant future.
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