Martinez deserves credit for brave decisions


Roberto Martinez is a manager who has certainly faced his critics in English football, especially following a tenure as Everton boss that saw his sides often blow hot and cold.

However, with his side 2-0 down against minnows Japan and in the face of a shock exit from the World Cup, the former Wigan manager showed his nous to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Many were quick to malign the Spaniard’s tactical decisions when he opted to bring on Maroune Fellaini and Nacer Chadli in a bit to turn the game around.

Those people were soon left with egg on their face as the introductions quickly turned the tide of the game irresistibly into the favour of the Belgians.

Just shortly after the changes, Jan Vertonghen’s header across goal inexplicably found its way inside the far post to half the deficit to one goal and give the side that had gone into the tie overwhelming favourites a foothold back into the game.

Against a diminutive side, the physical line-up of the Red Devils began to take a direct approach to the game as they pressurised the Japanese goalkeeper and back line by bombarding the area at any given opportunity.

And the tactical adaptation proved effective as substitute Fellaini brought the tie into parity with 15 minutes remaining in the tie.

Both sides approached the remaining minutes of the game with an intense approach that suggested they were eager to have it completed within the 90.

Whilst the Belgians had taken the initiative following the Martinez’s introductions, the game was not without opportunities for Japan to re-establish their lead – a free kick from Honda testing Thibaut Courtois leading to a last-minute corner.

Pressing for the victory, Japan inexcusably left the back door open at this point and Nacer Chadli wrapped up an exquisite attacking move to give his side the lead in the game for the very first time, with only seconds remaining on the clock.

His goal sent the side into raptures as the reality dawned on them that they had overcome what would have been one of the tournaments greatest upsets – in what has been a tournament of great upsets – to reach a spot in the Quarter Final, where they must now face Brazil.

Roberto Martinez should be rightfully applauded for his brave tactical decisions in the game.

At a moment in which his system had clearly failed to make the most of his and introduce a duo of players that would certainly be considered less than fashionable in the company of a side that boasts the likes of Hazard and De Bruyne.

His willingness to show pragmatism and  go direct ultimately saved the day for Belgium.

It wasn’t pretty but it certainly was effective. And effective is what wins tournaments.

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