Never one to shirk hyperbole, Goal.com dropped a HASHTAG NEWSBOMB that exploded all over Twitter with the force of a…bomb. Roberto Martinez, former-Villa manager(ial favourite for about ten seconds) and current Wigan manager has been approached ‘through a third party‘ (a mandrill?) to see if he’d be interested in the Liverpool FC job.
Fenway Sports Group (FSG), the Reds’ American owners, made contact with Wigan boss Martinez last week through third parties and sources have described the Spaniard as the hot favourite to take over at Anfield after Dalglish was sacked on Wednesday.
This is a moment where I can make what I hope will be an interesting point about the football. Here goes.
By coincidence, today Zonal Marking’s Michael Cox wrote an intriguing post on Martinez’s transition to a 3-4-3 at Wigan, and how it transformed the club’s fortunes in the latter half of the season. What’s clear in reading Cox’s analysis is how essential having the right players in the right positions was in supporting his vision. For example, Cox quotes Martinez explaining the shift in his own words:
“It suits our players. When you’ve got a Jean Beausejour who is a specialist in that position, you take advantage of that. The back three gives you that. Then there’s the energy we’ve got in midfield, players who can play between lines like Shaun Maloney and Jordi Gomez.”
Italics mine. The tactical shift, enabled in part by the pick up of Beausejour in the January transfer window, allowed Wigan to pick up, as Cox notes, “27 points in 14 games.” The problem is before that, Wigan earned “16 points from 24 games.”
In other words, it took time and a half season of futility before Martinez could get the personnel in order to realize his ideal formational approach and allow Wigan to play above their ability and beat teams like Manchester United and Arsenal (and, in the process, effectively help Manchester City to their first title in 44 years).
Everything about Liverpool FC at the moment screams of a club in need of someone who can help these players play at and above their current collective ability, particularly, as Swiss Ramble pointed out a week ago, the club is still rebuilding after the disastrous Hicks and Gillett ownership period. Martinez is a very good manager, at the right club with the right personnel. Is LFC a fit? Perhaps, but if this story is to be believed (asterisk asterisk asterisk) the owners haven’t exactly signaled they’re taking their time making a careful decision in finding the best possible manager based on players, staff, etc. Will Liverpool have patience while Martinez rebuilds according to his tactical ideal?
I’ve been getting word today via my mysterious source (the tentacles of LFC reach far-and-wide) that some within the club believe that Henry and FSG do not in fact know what they’re doing, and that LFC is a “shambles” at the moment. Running around like chickens sans heads in finding a replacement for Dalglish should give Liverpool fans pause. Martinez is a very good manager, but appointing him shotgun wedding styles simply because of a successful-but-painfully-slow transition at Wigan doesn’t strike me as particularly good planning.