After the very mediocre game against Canada, Roberto Martinez gave an explanation for the team’s performance. The players were paralyzed with emotion, it sounded. How credible is that for one of the most experienced teams at this World Cup?
“I think his way of communicating really serves the purpose of protecting and motivating his players,” says René Foolen.
“Whether that comes across as credible to the media and the supporters, I don’t think he cares. His job is to motivate his players to keep winning the games.”
“I think Martinez is an intelligent man and I can’t imagine there isn’t some strategy behind his style of communication.”
So was it a strategy to bring the positive news about Lukaku soon after the game against Canada? Our commentator Tom Boudeweel also put question marks in our World Cup podcast.
“Normally there are no interviews on the day after the game,” said Boudeweel. “I therefore thought it was strange that the good news about Lukaku was now being communicated. Was that to calm things down after the bad match against Canada?”
“I can imagine that very well,” says Foolen. “With that good news, they want to break through the negative sentiment around the team. That way of communicating is of course completely conscious.”
“The communications department and the spokesperson are also there in Qatar, so that must have been discussed. I can hardly imagine that that decision was only taken by Martinez.”
A conscious strategy, then, but Martinez’s style remains a big contrast with, say, Louis van Gaal, who attracts almost all the attention at the Dutch press conferences.
“That’s about it,” says Foolen. “That is of course also a conscious way to keep the pressure away from his players. When the results are good, he is very light-hearted, but his mood really determines how the press conferences go.”
“For example, yesterday we saw him hugging a foreign journalist, but we also have a lot of examples that he can discuss vigorously with journalists.”