In Friday's Life After Arsene, Diego Simeone's success and hot-tempered managerial ethos were covered, producing quite the polarizing opinion. Today we dig into a manager with years of management experience in the Premier League, Roberto Martinez.
Brief managerial background: Martinez retired from his playing career at Chester City halfway through the 2006/07 seasons, and instantly went into management at Swansea City. He found success with the Swans, guiding them to the League One title - and promotion to the Championship - in his first full season. He won 63 matches out of a total 126 while at Swansea, which grabbed the attention of Wigan Athletic, a club he spent six seasons at as a player.
Martinez ended up signing for the Latics in the summer of 2009, but found the competition much difficult in the Premier League. Over four years at the club, he won a mere 29% of their total matches. But Martinez found magic in a bottle in the form of their 2012/13 FA Cup run. Inexplicably, Martinez guided the club - at the time languishing most of the league season in the relegation zone - to an FA Cup trophy, beating heavily-favorited, oil-backed Manchester City in the final. However, Wigan were relegated back to the Championship shortly after their Wembley conquest.
Wigan were resigned to lose Martinez during their transition to the Championship, and his suitor came in the form of Everton, a club searching for their first manager in eleven years after David Moyes was tapped to do the impossible at Manchester United. Martinez joined up the first week of June 2013, and quickly set about turning transfer window observers eyes by making quite a few shrewd moves. He picked up Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku on loan, Barcelona's Gerard Deulofeu on loan, and defensive midfielder James McCarthy from his old club Wigan (who Martinez plunked, along with his teammate James McArthur, from Hamilton Academial of the Scottish Premiership). He took a club that had a solid core, along with his new charges, to a surprising 5th place finish.
Is there an Arsenal connection? No.
Does he have a connection to Arsene Wenger? No.
Pros: His tactics - which focus on creating as many overload situations as possible, utilizing wingers to move more in the middle of the pitch allowing his fullbacks to move forward in order to become a large focal point of attack - appear on the surface to perfectly translate into Arsenal and the current squad and mentality. In his first season at Everton, he turned a club that was mid-table in passing accuracy and average possession per match the season before into 3rd and 1st respectively. All while allowing the third-fewest goals in the league.
Further, Martinez is famously addicted to collecting as much data as possible in order to measure fatigue, movement of players in training via GPS tracking, and at Everton only grown his capabilities and measurements. While it's widely-accepted that soccer analysis is still in its infancy stage, Martinez has dove head-first into the world, becoming a pioneer in his own right in measurements and analysis.
Cons: While he ended up signing Lukaku on a permanent this past summer, he has relied on more than a fair amount of loanees to help guide his clubs to success. And just like clockwork, he signed yet another striker on loan this season, Samuel Eto'o. It's not a bad way to operate, but he's only made one transfer, James McCarthy (both times), that can be considered a success.
Even though Swiss Ramble once said "Given their substantial financial disadvantages, Wigan’s ability to survive in the Premier League is a minor modern miracle", Martinez couldn't keep up that act for too long, eventually driving them back into the Championship before bolting for greener (bluer?) pastures. There's also the little, non-minor detail that is Everton currently languishing 12th in the EPL table, having given up nearly 60% of their 2013-14 goals allowed total in just 15 matches.
Overall assessment: Roberto Martinez has done wonders at smaller clubs while finding efficiency in absent of financial assistance. However, if his first season at Everton was his high point, his second season on Merseyside is quickly trending to one of his lower points - and that includes steering Wigan into relegation.
He's obviously well-versed in the rigors involved in managing a Premier League club, but he just doesn't quite have the level of success, on the pitch and off, that should make Arsenal strongly consider Martinez a viable option to replace Arsene Wenger. His work in analytics and data collection is definitely a plus since he's appears willing to shift the paradigm based on grounded evidence. But if that alone was a major factor in considering who would be the top candidate, Billy Beane's phone would be getting a call from a really funny-looking number. At a certain point, results matter and, FA Cup trophy aside, Roberto Martinez simply doesn't have enough yet to force the Board to consider his prospects.
He seems like a nice guy, though. Maybe he can find a way to weave his character and personality into some sort of managerial measurement.
In tomorrow's Life After Arsene, a manager who's managed and succeeded at some of the biggest clubs in the world gets a full examination.