Wigan Athletic v Swansea City - Premier League

Roberto Martinez – How well would he fit at Everton?

1 Comment

Following Everton’s announcement that David Moyes has left the club let’s take a deeper look at the favorite to succeed him, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez.

As laid out earlier today, the list of managerial candidates to fill the Scot’s role is quite extensive, and given the circumstances at Everton, perhaps justifiably so.

There are numerous considerations for both the fans and the club.

Evertonians will prefer a British manager or a ‘foreigner’ who possesses good insight of the English game. Many fans speak of the desire to appoint someone who understands ‘the culture,’ not only in the league but at Goodison Park as well. Things like work ethic, spirit, modesty, courage and passion are all qualities that contribute to the club’s identity. After all, Evertonian’s are “born, not manufactured.”

The club will want a manager who is young, up-and-coming, and can be acquired on the cheap. They’ll want a manager who has proven he can work on a shoe-string budget and knows how to get the most out of his players. The club will also want someone who is in for the long haul and can continue Moyes’ good work of making the dark days of the 1990’s a distant memory.

The consensus is that Martinez is the top candidate to satisfy these needs, although some concerns remain over his four major qualities.

Loyalty

One major quality Martinez possesses is that he is incredibly loyal, which goes a long way at Goodison Park. The problem is, does Martinez’ loyalty to Wigan go too far?

When clubs like Aston Villa and Liverpool made past inquiries about his services he simply reaffirmed his commitment to Wigan and chairman Dave Whelan, whom the manager deeply respects.

The question then becomes, what will it take for Everton to convince the Spaniard to sever his ties with the Latics and become loyal to the Toffees?

The most likely answer is relegation and money. If the Latics go down to the Championship, Martinez will be miles more likely to leave Wigan. Not only will he want to continue managing a club in the top-flight, but if Wigan go down the Spaniard will be forced to take a cut on his £2 million salary. Suddenly, the £4 million per year that Moyes has been making at Everton makes a move to Goodison much more tempting.

Economically Efficient

A second accolade that Martinez possesses is the proven ability to operate Wigan on a small budget.

The financial constraints have forced him to operate with one of the bottom three wage bills in the Premier League yet, year-after-year, he has managed to keep the club in top-flight football.

Eye for Talent

Martinez has a wonderful eye for talent.

In his four year tenure at Wigan he’s signed the current life-force of the Latics by bringing in Shaun Maloney, Ivan Ramis, James McArthur, Jordi Gomez, Franco Di Santo, Arouna Kone and Roger Espinoza. It’s a market savvy that mimics the purchases Moyes has made over his time at Everton and one that will go a long way to impressing the notoriously frugal Toffee chairman, Bill Kenwright.

Style of Play

Martinez’ best quality is that he cultivates a beautiful brand of attack-minded football.

It’s an entertaining style that many Evertonians criticized Moyes for failing to implement. To achieve this, the Spanish manager typically utilizes a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation, which Everton has experimented with in the past and could foreseeably implement with Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines (assuming the left-back stays at Goodison Park).

Detractors will argue that with Martinez’ offensive flair comes a defensive ineptitude. It’s a point that’s difficult to argue against as the Latics have conceded a league worst 67 goals this season. Of course it should be noted that Martinez’ current portfolio of center-backs includes the likes of Gary Caldwell and Paul Sharner. Nevertheless, a tidy defense is something that Everton has long prided itself on so if Martinez comes to Goodison, he’ll need to be mindful of the tradition.

So how does Martinez feel about a possible move to Merseyside?

Unsurprisingly, the Spanish manager – who’s side plays Manchester City in the FA Cup on Saturday and is in the midst of a league relegation battle – remains mum on the topic. When asked recently whether he has thought about replacing Moyes at Everton, Martinez replied:

“At this moment it would be a waste of time. The most important thing is to be as ready as we can for Saturday and then the two other finals we have in the league after that.

“What goes around on the outside doesn’t affect us. We won’t lose any focus.”

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
1 Comment

Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

Follow @NicholasMendola

Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

meninblazers
twitter.com/MenInBlazers
Leave a comment

Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]

Click here for the RSS feed ]

Follow @NicholasMendola

Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
Leave a comment

On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

Follow @NicholasMendola