In a surprise move, Belgium have confirmed former Everton manager Roberto Martínez as the national side’s new manager.
The 43-year-old replaces previous Red Devils boss Marc Wilmots, who left his post in the wake of a European Championship campaign that saw them eliminated by Wales in the quarter finals.
— BelgianRedDevils (@BelRedDevils) August 3, 2016
It’s Martínez’s first foray into international management, having managed club sides Swansea, Wigan and Everton. This, however, will be a step up from anything he has encountered before – both in terms of the calibre of player available to him and the expectations that the job entails.
He began brightly at Everton upon succeeding David Moyes in 2013, leading the Toffees to a fifth place finish in the Premier League in his first season, but his reign slowly soured as performances declined and they slipped down the table in the subsequent two years at Goodison Park.
He was finally fired in the final week of last season and ultimately replaced by Ronald Koeman.
This morning, Catalan publication Sport were running with the theory that the Belgian FA were considering as many as 40 candidates to replace Wilmots, including Louis van Gaal, Marcello Lippi and Rudi García. Martínez was not thought to be among the frontrunners for the job, so the appointment will come as a shock to many.
His first match in charge of Belgium will come on September 1st as they take on Spain in a friendly in Brussels, before beginning their World Cup qualification campaign in Cyprus five days later.