Belgium’s FA must have known they would raise a few eyebrows with the appointment of Roberto Martinez.
The former Swansea, Wigan, and most recently, Everton boss has taken over from Marc Wilmots, who resigned after seeing the Red Devils crash out of Euro 2016 to Wales.
Wilmots was widely criticised for failing to get the best out of a hugely talented ‘Golden Generation’ in Belgian football. They arrived in France as one of the favourites, with a squad featuring some of the Premier League’s most famous faces.
His undoing was in the fundamental mistakes in team selection, as well as his inability to motivate his players. Wilmots refused to play Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen together in the centre of defence, despite their experience together.
In midfield, Marouane Fellaini was selected instead of Mousa Dembele. It’s no wonder Wilmots’ reign wasn’t an overwhelming success, but Martinez can turn things around.
Everton fans may be bewildered by that statement. The Spaniard’s last season on Merseyside was disastrous, but he wasn’t helped by players who simply refused to play their best for him.
Claudio Ranieri has proven certain managers need the right jobs. If Leicester hadn’t appointed him because of his failures with Greece, then they wouldn’t be where they are.
Martinez can’t be defined by his ill-fated spell at Everton. This is the manager who took Swansea up through the divisions, handing the reins over to Brendan Rodgers shortly before they took the final step up to the Premier League.
It’s also the same manager who won an FA Cup with Wigan.
Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku may not be overjoyed to hear of his appointment of their national team, but bar with the players he worked with Everton, Martinez is likely to be given a fresh start.
Belgium’s young squad is nothing but promising at the moment, something it has in common with its new manager. Combined, though, there is every possibility that Martinez can build something tangible, if they’ll only let him.