Five options for Belgium if Roberto Martinez left to become Everton manager
Managerless Everton have made former boss Roberto Martinez their No.1 target following the departure of Rafa Benitez.
The Athletic reports that Everton have approached the Belgian FA for the services of Martinez, who previously said he had “unfinished business” at the Merseyside club.
With the 2022 World Cup on the horizon, obviously Belgium don’t want to lose the manager who has been in charge since 2016, and led the country to third at the last World Cup.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens with this one, but for the time being we’ve taken a look at who could be in contention to replace Martinez at Belgium should he make the decision to return to Goodison Park...
Now, this is obviously dependent on whether Thierry Henry would follow Roberto Martinez to Merseyside or not. There have been reports that he would do given how well they operate as a duo, but if not, then Belgium could look to appoint from within and hand their current assistant manager the top job until after the 2022 World Cup.
Henry, a World Cup winner with France, has had a mixed start to his managerial career. The Frenchman oversaw just 20 games at first club Monaco, then spent 29 games in charge of MLS club Montreal Impact, whom he led into the play-offs and the Champions League quarter-finals.
Henry was part of Martinez’s Belgium coaching staff when they finished 3rd at the 2018 World Cup, and the quarter-finals of Euro 2020. He certainly has the character and confidence to step into the role and obviously knows the set-up very well, while he’d have the respect of the players.
"Henry is the best thing that has happened to me because since I came to England aged 18 I have had the best mentors,” Lukaku previously said. “Thierry for me is the best. Every day whether it is positive and negative I take it in my stride because I know what is expected from the top level.”
In terms of Belgian managers on fire, look no further than Philippe Clement.
The 47-year-old’s managerial star is shining brightly on the back of three consecutive Belgian Pro League titles with Genk (2018/19) and Club Brugge (2019/20 and 2020/21). Meanwhile, in the Champions League he claimed impressive draws against both Real Madrid and PSG.
He’s recently undertaken a new challenge in France with Monaco following the surprise exit of Niko Kovac, and last weekend oversaw his first win in a thumping 4-0 victory over Clermont which moved his new side up to 5th in Ligue 1.
“His profile as a modern coach, with his teams playing with great intensity and daring, including on the continental stage, and his ability to combine titles and the development of young players have made him one of the most prominent and successful coaches in Europe in recent years,” said Monaco’s Sporting Director Paul Mitchell.
The former Red Devils defender, who played at France 1998, signed a three-year contract at Monaco, so he’s unlikely to be going anywhere soon. But should the FA want a home-grown replacement for Martinez, he’s definitely the stand-out option at this moment in time.
Speaking of Belgian bosses, could Belgium turn to their former skipper Vincent Kompany?
Kompany is obviously well respected within the squad, having captained many of the current players. The defender pulled on his country’s shirt a total of 89 times spanning 15 years, and helped them finish 3rd under Martinez at the 2018 World Cup - their highest ever standing.
Kompany has since ventured into management with Anderlecht in 2019, first as a player-manager but he swiftly postponed his involvement as manager until 2020. In his first season (2020/21) in charge of his boyhood club they finished 3rd in the regular season - 4th in the play-offs - and reached the Belgian Cup semi-finals, while they are currently in 4th spot this season.
"The experience he brings as a footballer and when he adapts to how he can transfer that knowledge into the different personalities he will have in the dressing room, I have no doubt he will be a real successful figure for Belgium football as a coach for the future, no doubt," Martinez previously said when asked about whether Kompany could successfully transition from player to manager.
Kompany, 35, is still learning the managerial ropes as he oversees a testing rebuilding job at Anderlecht where he's on a four-year contract. The Belgium job - if it does become available - is likely to come too soon for the former Red Devils captain, although you can’t rule out a short-term deal.
A born leader, Kompany is not one to shy away from a big opportunity or challenge.
Out-of-work, tick. International experience, tick. Experience of winning the World Cup, tick.
Joachim Low famously led the German national team for an eye-popping 15 years, during which he lifted the World Cup in 2014. Low also finished as runner-up at Euro 2008, third at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, and reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
However, his final World Cup (2018) didn’t quite go to plan in a group stage exit, then in his final tournament Germany were knocked-out in the last-16 of Euro 2020 by England.
After leaving his post in the summer, Low insisted that he wasn’t drawing the curtains on his managerial career: "I never talked about retirement. There are definitely new tasks that are interesting for me.”
An outside shout this one. Ralf Rangnick is obviously currently working as interim manager at Man Utd. The Red Devils have yet to sparkle under the German but while we don’t yet know if he’ll stay on as permanent boss, 6/4 favourite in the betting Mauricio Pochettino does appear the most likely option. A lot can change though.
However, Rangnick is of course contracted to remain at Old Trafford for a further two years in a consultancy role, and will likely have a big say on who becomes the next full-time boss.
We obviously aren’t privy to the minor details but should, as expected, Rangnick stay on in this capacity could there be an option to juggle his position alongside another role e.g. Belgium manager?
Rangnick was interviewed for the Belgium job in 2016 following the departure of Marc Wilmots. He obviously didn’t get the call-up on that occasion - although he was the one that suggested the club give Henry a position on the coaching staff - but could be in the conversation once again should Martinez depart.