The Portuguese national team has a new head coach. Roberto Martinez (49) takes over the next ambitious selection after Belgium.
In Qatar, he failed with Belgium in the preliminary round, and now Roberto Martinez takes over another World Cup participant – who made it further than his team. As the Portuguese Football Association announced on Monday, Martinez will coach the Portuguese national team in the future. A contract period was not communicated. Already on Saturday, “The Athletic” had reported a verbal agreement between the coach and the federation.
Martinez’s contract in Belgium expired after the World Cup and was not extended. In Portugal, he succeeds Fernando Santos, who led the team to the European Championship title in 2016 but was sacked after the quarter-final exit at the World Cup against Morocco. According to Portuguese media reports, the federation’s head Fernando Gomes initially favoured José Mourinho, but the current AS Roma coach could not be persuaded to take on the job.
Instead, the Spaniard Martinez will be only the third non-Portuguese to take over the Selecao after the Brazilians Otto Gloria (1964 to 1966 and 1982 to 1983) and Luiz Felipe Scolari (2003 to 2008).
Martinez wants a “modern team” with “tactical flexibility”
“I am delighted to be coaching one of the most talented national teams in the world,” said the 49-year-old Martinez in his inaugural press conference. “When I first met with the board and the president, I knew immediately that this was the project I wanted.” To do that, he said he wanted to build “a modern team that is tactically flexible. This flexibility is very important. We have to be well structured without the ball and use our talent on the ball.”
As support, Martinez wants to bring a Portuguese assistant into his coaching staff “who has played in the Selecao himself and has an international career to show for it. That would be very important to improve our understanding of Portuguese football.” Martinez left it open as to who that person would be. However, the structure of the coaching staff will be announced: “in the next few days”.