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Balague: Challenge Suits Roberto

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Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague is convinced the ambition shown by both Everton and Roberto Martinez make them the perfect fit.

As a close friend of the Blues’ new boss, fellow Spaniard Balague believes the chance to take up the reins at Goodison Park has arrived at just the right time in Martinez’s career.

Over the previous two pre-seasons, Martinez had opted to remain at Wigan Athletic and hone his managerial skills at the DW Stadium rather than move to a number of Premier League outfits that had sought his services.

“It’s interesting that last season Roberto decided that he had a job to do at Wigan and he stayed on, which tells you that he is loyal and that he knew he was going to learn a lot from another season which would be difficult,” Balague told evertonfc.com. “That shows you that he is a guy that is not afraid of challenges.

“I’ve known him for more than a decade now and I’ve always said that, at his own pace, he will make the top. Everton is the top in terms of a club that has maximised its potential and has very cleverly used the resources available, financially and otherwise. It’s a step up on many levels.

“The expectations are going to be bigger and to want to qualify for the Champions League shows the ambitions that you need to have for this kind of club. He is also very aware what Everton means to the people.

“I adore the city of Liverpool and I think it has two clubs that are really special to the people. To have a friend of mine that is the manager of one them, it’s a marvellous feeling.”

Martinez has spent the last 18 years working in Britain both as a player and manager after moving from hometown team Balaguer in 1995.

La Liga expert Balague has his reasons as to why he believes the 39-year-old has so far decided against a return to Spain to take up any managerial positions in the Iberian nation.

He said: “I have been asked the question before and I don’t know what people get out of knowing what his reputation is like in Spain because he hasn’t been working there or played at the highest level. Somebody called him once a Spanish-born British manager and as such you can only praise him for moving up the levels here.

Roberto Martinez

“In the last year, Roberto has jumped into the mainstream [in Spain]. He has given interviews to the big newspapers and people like how he talks, but people don’t really know about his work because Wigan aren’t broadcast much in Spain.

“Now he is at Everton, people will see more of him and the job he has got will be reflected in the news stories.

“In the past he has had the chance to move back to Spain but he hasn’t taken it. He, himself, sees Britain as a place where he is going to develop as a coach and a manager.

“His ambition was to stay at Wigan and make it bigger. I remember talking to him last summer and he was saying the biggest trophy that Wigan had won was that they had bought the land to develop the training ground. He was talking with the mind of a manager and the perfect place to develop was at Wigan.

“He has always been focused on his progression in Britain. By saying no to Spain, he doesn’t really see that as a missed opportunity. His future is in England, for sure.”

At his press conference on Wednesday, Martinez spoke of his desire to play a ‘winning’ brand of football at Everton.

Balague, however, says that while there will be principles Martinez will try to instil in the Blues’ style of play, his tactics will be versatile.

He added: “What is a Spanish style of football? I don’t believe there is only one. In the same way, what is a British style of football? Is Arsenal a British style, or Manchester United? The definition is very blurred.

“What Roberto does is exploit what he has to its maximum potential and he believes in possession – but not just for possession’s [sake]. He does it to be able to beat lines or to be defensive. He does it for a reason.

“He mixes it with pace and high-tempo ‘English’ football. It’s a nice a mixture.

“At Everton, it’s going to be an interesting move away from David Moyes, who was very clearly all about high intensity and playing with wingers.”

Balague will be releasing the paperback version of his Pep Guardiola biography in August. He is also currently writing a book on four-time Ballon D’or winner Lionel Messi which is set to be released later in the year. More information can be found at his official website www.guillembalague.com.

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