Roberto Martinez is the favorite with bookmakers to become Real Madrid’s next permanent manager, but the Belgian FA have said they have had no contact for their manager and have warned against any “tapping up” of their boss.
With Julen Lopetegui fired earlier this week after Real’s 5-1 humiliation at bitter rivals Barcelona, reserve team coach Santiago Solari has been promoted to take charge of the first team on an interim basis.
Solari is also believed to be among the leading candidates to take charge and considering how well it went for Real promoting from within last time — Zinedine Zidane’s three-straight UEFA Champions League titles prove that — Florentino Perez may go down that route again.
Various reports suggest that Antonio Conte has ruled himself out of taking charge of Real, plus Mauricio Pochettino seems unlikely to leave Tottenham, while many other candidates such as Arsene Wenger would be seen as a short-term option (which is pretty much what every Real manager is, but whatever…) to take over at the Santiago Bernabeu.
And then there’s Martinez.
The Spanish coach led Belgium to third-place at the 2018 World Cup and can clearly manage some of the biggest egos in the game. But how much further can he take Belgium? Will he still be in charge of them in four years time at the 2022 World Cup? His reputation took a hit after he suffered a poor second season in charge at Everton, but his adventurous tactics and ability to give senior players power could suit this ageing Real Madrid squad well.
Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Luka Modric, among many others, are said to have a huge influence on who Real president Perez selects as the next manager and reports claim that Ramos scuppered any deal for Conte as the players were against the defensive tactics of the former Chelsea coach.
Martinez is the opposite of Conte, tactically, and surely the Spaniard would jump at the chance to return to his homeland after a long-road traveled at Wigan, Swansea and through the lower leagues in the UK before succeeding as a manager with Swansea, Wigan and Everton.
For many the jury is still out on Martinez as a manager, with his time at Everton being used as the main measuring stick. But you cannot deny his success with Belgium and the panache his teams play with would certainly suit the squad Real have. The main problem for them under Lopetegui has been scoring goals, as Real have lost four of their last five league games, scoring twice in that stretch and picking up just one point.
Martinez’s attack-minded philosophy would suit this situation well and, let’s be honest, the situation at Real cannot get any worse than it is right now. It seems like a perfect time for Martinez, or anybody else, to come in and play the hero role.