Roberto Martinez Won't Fulfill His Grand Ambitions at Everton

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Roberto Martinez Won't Fulfill His Grand Ambitions at Everton
Paul Thomas/Getty Images
Roberto Martinez at his unveiling as Everton manager this week

When I interviewed Roberto Martinez before Wigan’s FA Cup final victory last month he was keen to stress his desire to win trophies. 

“I am an ambitious manager,” he told me. “I want to win many trophies in my career. I have said I want to win league titles, the Champions League, and even the World Cup. You have to aim high." 

At the DW Stadium he was never going to achieve that, but even now he’s moved on to Goodison Park it remains highly unlikely he will realise those lofty ambitions there as well. 

The Wigan chairman Dave Whelan had been expecting Martinez to move on, but assumed it would be for an even bigger club. 

“He will be the manager of a one of the top six clubs in European football,” the Wigan chairman told me last month. “He’s destined to do that and be one of the best managers there is.” 

Everton are a fine club, but they are certainly not one of the top six in Europe, and if Martinez is to become one of the game’s great managers, he will have to eventually leave Everton as well.

At Goodison Park he can certainly enhance his reputation, but he will never lift the Premier League or Champions League.  

But as his Everton predecessor David Moyes proved before he left for Manchester United, a failure to win trophies does not need to be an obstacle to getting one of those top six European jobs. 

Martinez’s task at Everton will be to force their way in to the top four and earn a place in the Champions League, something the club has not achieved since the 2004-05 season.  

Can he do it? Almost certainly not. 

Everton finished sixth last season, but the sad truth is they will need to spend a lot more money to leapfrog Tottenham and Arsenal in the Premier League table, money they simply don’t have. 

If the highly impressive Marouane Fellaini, who contributed 12 goals last season, leaves this summer, then that task gets even harder.

Martinez will inherit a squad containing real talent with the likes of Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas, Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic

But without major investment it has the look of a team destined to remain outside the top four. 

There is no doubt Martinez is a fine manager. He won promotion with Swansea, and of course last season the FA Cup and a route into Europe with Wigan Athletic

He plays football the right way, with style and flair, and crucially, players respond to his methods. 

“I really enjoy playing for Roberto Martinez. He can be hard, but he earns the player’s respect because he is so passionate about the game,” Wigan Athletic midfielder Shaun Maloney told me. 

“Any player would love his system and style of football, it gets you up in the morning excited about playing for him and going in to training. I really have learned a lot from him.” 

Martinez is a master of designing tactics to win a single game as he proved against Manchester City in the FA Cup final, but over the course of a 38-game season his record should trouble Everton fans. 

In four seasons in the Premier League with Wigan he finished 16th, 16th, 15th before finally last season they were relegated after finishing 18th. He has won only 38 of 152 Premier League games. 

Last season he finished 18th, this season with a new team he wants to finish fourth. That is quite a jump, one probably beyond him. 

This week the Everton chairman Bill Kenwright was quoted in The Daily Telegraph as saying, “Roberto’s first words to me were ‘I will get you in the Champions League.' That was extraordinary for a manager who does not know much about the club from the outside.” 

When he gets on the inside Martinez will begin to realise just how extraordinary that promise was.

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