Florentino Perez listens to players and appoints Santiago Solari as Real Madrid coach

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Santiago Solari was named as the new Real Madrid manager this week, and the news will be a relief for the players.Solari has signed a 3 year contract with his former club and has also fought off stiff competition to land the job. Both Antonio Conte and Roberto Martinez were in the running to take over from the sacked Julen Lopetegui but Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has given the chance to Solari. So what gives and why did Perez not go for more experience?

The truth is that the players especially Sergio Ramos had voiced their disagreement in landing Conte as manager. His quote earlier this month that you have to earn respect to achieve it in regards of Conte being drafted in didn’t sit too well. Ramos and other influential players didn’t like the thought of Conte taking over the hot seat, and yes player power is evident once again. But whilst in the past Perez would have brushed off such antics, he listened and talks broke down.

There was also talk of bringing in former Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who would not have got a look in if still at the Premier League side. But his reputation has mostly been built on this summers World Cup, where his Belgian side reached the semi finals before losing narrowly against France who would eventually go on to win the trophy. There was a feeling that the players were more happier to receive Martinez than Perez was. However with Conte out of the picture, both Perez and the players broke even and Martinez was also ruled out. This left Solari who had been moved up from youth coach as a temporary figure head until the club could find someone.

However sometimes the answer or in Madrid’s case remedy is staring you in the face and Solari an ex player who has the respect of the current squad was given the job full time. With new managerial talks hitting a dead end, Perez also had the laws of the Spanish FA bearing down on him, given that clubs cannot have a caretaker manager for more than two weeks. In one way Solari has the job through default but in another perhaps he has earned it.

Since taking over from the ill fated Lopetegui, Solari has presided over 4 games and the club have won all 4. In his youth management Solari only managed a win rate of 37%, but he has got off to the best possible start with Madrid. The one important factor is that the players are their happiest they have been all season, that as Solari knows only to well can go a long way.

Real Madrid are still recovering from the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo, and this season was always going to be a transitiona one. But perhaps Solari can add the reignited spark that Los Blanco’s so ever need.

Did England Really Try To Beat Belgium?



Normally, when a third match in the group stages of the World Cup is set to decide who wins the group, the game will be a rip-roaring affair. Often end to end, with chances coming and going with little to no indication as to which way the result will go until that first moment of magic – which often settles the tie. The winners celebrate, the losers stare into the distance contemplating the fact they now have to take on a group winner as opposed to a runner-up – a side statistically more likely to have advanced by a much closer shave than the winners. It is a tense time, and a period of uncertainty as the manager makes plans to overcome their first knockout foes and continue the journey.

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World Cup 2018: Lukaku and Hazard to guide Belgium through


Continuing our series of looking ahead at this summer’s primary contenders in the World Cup in Russia, attention now focuses on Roberto Martinez’s Belgium. Often considered underdogs and outside bets, the Belgians have been improving regularly over the course of the past decade or so, and enter the competition this time around favoured ahead of the likes of former world champions England and Uruguay. While the improvement has been steady, it could be argued that this Belgium squad will be among the finest the nation have ever produced. A raft of stars ply their trade in one of Europe’s top flights, including several Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 stars.

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Serie A top players excluded from the World Cup squads

Belgium v Czech Republic - International Friendly

The national teams have handed the squad lists for the upcoming World Cup: they are not all definitive yet, but it is already certain that some of Serie A’s most recognizable player have missed the cut.

Alex Sandro: the Juventus left back has had a seesawing season, but he is one of the best in his position on his day. However, Tite picked Filipe Luis, who is coming off an injury, as Marcelo back-up in Russia.  Continue reading

World Cup 2018: Martinez turning Belgium into Contenders?

We are pleased to welcome one of our former writers Vincent Van Genechten who has extensive knowledge on both Belgian and Italian football. In Part I of this Q & A, we will be discussing the Belgian national team, in particular manager Roberto Martinez and his approach.

Q1) What do you make of Belgian manager Martinez? Some are skeptical about him being the right man for the job. 

It has been nothing less than a successful reign for Martinez since he took over from Marc Wilmots. Is he special in his approach? Yes. I mean, who leaves out a world class player like Radja Nainggolan just to make a point? But that has been pretty much the only point of criticism I can give Martinez so far. He was able to guide Belgium to tough away wins against Bosnia and Greece, when his team finally showcased a sense of urgency, fighting spirit and finishing ability against good defenders. Continue reading

Martinez gets off to poor start with Belgium


Roberto Martinez as manager of Belgium still seems like a surprise call by the Belgian FA who plumped for the former Everton manager after a so so Euro 2016 campaign seen the nation outwitted by Gareth Bale and Wales.

And so Martinez’s managerial career started at home against Spain. Not an easy fixture but with such a good squad and evidence that Spain are blithering slowly away from football dominance surely this was a game that could have been won. Not so, Belgium went down 2-0.

Spain looked brilliant, confident and even relaxed as they passed the ball about as though Euro 2016 never happened. On the other side of the dug out Julen Lopetegui was celebrating also his first match in charge of an international side, and he would have been delighted at the teams response.

Back with Martinez though and even if this was just a friendly ahead of some very important World Cup qualifying matches it’s never a good sign when you lose your first match in charge especially when it’s at home.

Critics have already reacted to Martinez’s appointment with a star studded youthful team and that the two simply don’t mix. Is it the case that Martinez does not have the qualities to lay ego’s in the dressing room aside and sort out a rather dodgy defence- is Martinez more of a dreamer than a schemer?

His high profile assistant coach was it seems another odd appointment in Arsenal legend Thierry Henry- how much can some very good strikers learn from him? Will he come in with an attitude of ‘always can do better’? If so this could be a short disastrous spell for both men and the Belgium national team.

They will of course be judged soley on their World Cup qualification group. They start their campaign away to Cyprus and the small nation have caused one or two banana skins for some teams in the past few years.

Their group also contains Bosnia and Herzegovina and Greece the two main contenders for qualification. Apart from that there are some teams that Belgium in reality should have very little trouble with and that includes Estonia and then on a different level where we could see a score akin to a cricket one Gibraltar- who have recently only been approved by UEFA.

It will then be an interesting 12 months, failure to qualify will most definitely see Martinez sacked but qualification will see the Spaniard participate in his first World Cup- the question remains can Martinez inspire his team first?


Roberto Martinez lands Belgium job


Belgium have appointed former Everton manager Roberto Martinez as head coach of the national team. The move has surprised many but Martinez was incredibly upbeat about his new job and will once again work with Romelu Lukaku.

Martinez replaces Marc Wilmots who was sacked after Belgium who were highly tipped at Euro 2016 fell in the quarter finals to Wales.

Martinez bigged up his new team and said, “We are going to be favourites in most of the games, and you have to learn that mentality we have individuals who have played roles at big clubs, and we have to make these players enjoy and come together to do it for the national team.” He added “ Obviously I’ve worked with Belgium players and I’ve been intrigued by Belgium football for a long time now.”

Martinez will be charged with leading the team through a smooth World Cup qualification process for Russia 2018 and exciting times for the Spaniard await him. Martinez continued: “I felt this was a great opportunity, a great challenge, and I’m thankful to the Belgian FA, I’ve been working with Belgian players and I’ve been intrigued by Belgian football, the talent of the Belgium players is there to be seen. I’m humbled, proud, honoured to be the head coach of Belgium as a country. It will be a special journey together, to support these players that have got the world at their feet.”

This is by far Martinez’s biggest job in coaching and he will be expected to hit it off right away. The 43 year old has managed only at club level thus far for Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Everton.

His best and worst times were both for Wigan where the former player won the club their first piece of silverware in the FA Cup when they stunned favourites Manchester City. However just a week later the club were relegated from the Premier League.

Stats wise his best return has only been with his first club Swansea where he performed a decent return of a 50% win percentage. With Wigan that dropped down to a stunningly low 29% and with Everton he finished up with 42%.

He does though at Belgium have a pot full of mega stars including the aforementioned Lukaku who he knows well from his Everton days. Martinez will also be working with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen, Roma’s Radja Nainiggolan, and highly rated players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Axel Witsel, Divock Origi and Michy Batshuayi.

It’s fair to say with the smile plastered constantly over his face at the press conference that Martinez knows he has landed his dream job- now he will do everything he can not to turn it into a nightmare.


Hull urgently seeking successor to Bruce

arsene wenger

Hull’s City hierarchy are set to begin interviewing potential new managers, as they intensify their efforts to find a suitable successor to Steve Bruce, according to the i

Since Bruce’s resignation, Hull are understood to have drawn up a shortlist of five managerial candidates, with one of those believed to be the former Everton manager Roberto Martinez.

Martinez among a quintet of candidates

Martinez, who also previously managed Swansea City and Wigan, was sacked by Everton at the end of last season. Nevertheless he left the club after enjoying an excellent three-season spell, whereby he led Everton to victory in 61 of his 143 competitive games in charge of the club, to give him a win percentage of 42.7%.

Subsequently Hull’s vice chairman Ehab Allam is thought to view Martinez as an ideal candidate to fulfil the club’s vacant managerial position and hopes to interview the 43-year-old Spaniard in the forthcoming days.

In addition to Martinez, Bruce’s former assistant Terry Phelan, who is currently in caretaker charge of Hull on their pre-season tour of Austria, is set to be afforded the opportunity to present his case for being appointed the club’s permanent manager.

Two other managers currently in work who have been linked with succeeding Bruce are Birmingham City’s Gary Rowett and Le Havre coach Bob Bradley, who has not only managed the U.S.A national team but also that of Egypt, as the 58-year-old American is by far the most experienced manager to be connected to the Hull post.

Another contender to become the Tigers new manager is Ryan Giggs, with Manchester United’s record appearance holder having left Old Trafford earlier this summer in search of his first managerial role.

Cutting it fine to appoint manager before start of new season

Despite it being unclear as to whether Giggs will apply for the Hull job, the interview process to find a replacement for the 42-year-old Welshman’s former United team mate Bruce, is set to commence this weekend, with the Tigers hopeful of making an appointment within a week’s time.

Should they do so, that would give the club’s new manager less than a fortnight to prepare for Hull’s first game of the 2016-17 Premier League season, which is a home fixture against champions Leicester.
So far this summer Hull have not yet signed a senior player with the Tigers only acquisition being the 18-year-old goalkeeper Will Mannion from MK Dons, whilst the club released both Sone Aluko and Ryan Taylor.

A lack of activity in the transfer market, combined with several members of their first team sustaining serious injuries, has left Hull with just 13 fit senior players, which means the Tigers new manager will have to work resourcefully to ensure the club’s return to the top flight starts well.

Mixed messages mean Martinez had to go

martinez sunderland

Results are, of course, what determine the future of any manager and Roberto Martinez has paid the price for Everton’s. But the pressure on the Spaniard from supporters wasn’t entirely down to results. Communication – or a lack thereof – is what led to the unrest that eventually made his position untenable.

It’s one thing to see your team lose. It’s another thing entirely to be told what you had just seen was one thing when you knew it to be another. Martinez repeatedly told fans post-match that Everton had worked hard, that they had been unlucky, that this or that had been the cause of the latest defeat. He said after Everton drew 1-1 at home with Southampton in March that ‘it’s a good point in the way we had to fight very hard to cope with a demanding fixture.’

“Sometimes you have to dig in and work hard and that came out very clearly,” he continued, but where Martinez saw an Everton side ‘digging in and working hard,’ the Goodison Park crowd saw an Everton side outplayed, at home, again. Southampton had 17 shots to Everton’s seven, and Ronald Koeman left Merseyside regretting his team could only take a point. “I’m really disappointed because it was a big opportunity to win the game, right from the start,” he said, displaying the kind of ambition and awareness many feel Everton lack.

Martinez was forever positive. He found positives throughout this horrid season, even with home defeats to Leicester City, Stoke City, Swansea City, West Brom, West Ham and more. This is statistically Everton’s worst-ever season at Goodison. That Southampton draw was followed by a home win over Bournemouth but in between Everton lost two of their most important games of the season – a 4-0 hammering at Anfield by Liverpool in the Merseyside derby, and the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United, having failed to turn up for the first 45 minutes.

The former Wigan manager told fans one thing when the evidence pointed another way. It raised the question exactly what he was telling the players – was he working to iron out their faults, or assuring them that everything they were doing was right? The number of players who have markedly improved under Martinez is slim. John Stones makes the same defensive mistakes today as he did three years ago, Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines have had their attacking threat neutered, Ross Barkley has stalled and Romelu Lukaku still only shows in flashes that he would be good enough for the Champions League team his agent so clearly wishes he was at.

Baines spoke of a lack of chemistry in the team – and he was absolutely right, with no partnerships comparable to his old connection with Steven Pienaar – but was shouted down by Martinez. That kind of incident led to speculation Martinez had ‘lost the dressing room,’ whatever that means, and the frail performances against Liverpool, Leicester and Sunderland only fuelled the fire.

But Martinez had lost the supporters. First the reactionaries, then the moderates, then the loyalists. It was hard to see how Martinez could continue even before the Sunderland capitulation – the final game of the season, at home to relegated Norwich, would have been ugly. Martinez sounded desperate after losing to the Black Cats, as desperate as Everton’s performance, but more realism, more self-criticism and less stubbornness could have prevented the situation deteriorating to that point.

Everton sack Roberto Martinez


Roberto Martinez has been sacked as manager of Everton after 3 seasons in charge of the Blues. The Spaniard was given his marching orders after the Toffee men recorded a poor season in the Premier League.

It is believed that new club co owner Farhad Moshiri made the decision to terminate Martinez’s contract. Moshiri has a 49.9% stake in the club and after joining the club’s board in February, the Persian will want to put his own stamp on what road the club will be going down this summer when, as expected, the club will invest in new players.

Martinez who took over from long standing manager David Moyes looked to be the perfect choice for the club. In his debut season at Goodison Park Everton finished in 5th place and earned their greatest haul of points in the Premier League with 72. But since then things for the club have gone steadily down. In his second season the club finished mid table in an unremarkable effort.

But it has been season number 3 which put the writing on the wall for Martinez. The Blues are currently in 12th place and a loss in their last game of the season this weekend against Norwich City could see the club finish as low as 16th. Even a win would only give the club a total haul of 47 points, 25 points less than what Martinez achieved just two seasons ago.

Everton have won just 10 games this season, but it has been their home form which could have been Martinez’s downfall. At Goodison the Toffees won just 5 games all season, this form would have relegated the team had the league been based solely on points earned at home. Only Aston Villa with 2 wins had won fewer games and the club as we know finished rock bottom of the Premier League.

Everton will now be on the hunt for a new manager but just who will take over at a club who have seen just 19 managers in their history?

Frank De Boer has emerged as the favourite candidate. The Dutchman has had a brilliant career as a player and as a manager has won 4 Ervedisie titles with Ajax in six years. Mark Hughes is another candidate whose name has been thrown about in the past few weeks.

Or could it be David Moyes returning to a club he managed for over a decade? We should know the successor by the end of the month.