Football

Kevin De Bruyne Publicly Questions The Tactical Ability Of Roberto Martinez

Kevin De Bruyne Publicly Questions The Tactical Ability Of Roberto Martinez

Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, the performances of Kevin De Bruyne have reached fresh heights in the first third of Guardiola's second season in Manchester.

Playing alongside a plethora of stars, each contributing something by way of goals if nothing else, the Belgian has been the standout figure thus far.

It is perhaps understandable then that the usually reserved midfielder has taken some exception with the perceived inadequacies of his national setup.

Possession of a golden generation tought to rank Belgium high among the likely winners of next summer's World Cup in Russia but  under the management of Roberto Martinez, De Bruyne is of the belief that tactical adjustments will be required if the team are to make advancements.

Speaking to Het Laatse Niewus, De Bruyne criticised Belgium's 'very defensive' outlook during last week's 3-3 draw with Mexico. Something of an oxymoron given the high-scoring draw that ensued, De Bruyne did offer some logic for his complaints:

Mexico were just tactically better. Their system made our five defenders deep and we were swimming in midfield - it was five against seven.

As long as there is no good tactical system for the team, we are going to face difficulties against countries like Mexico.

It's a pity that we have not yet found a solution.

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With such an abundance of attacking talent (Hazard, Dembele, Carrasco, Mertens, Lukaku, De Bruyne etc) available to Martinez, there can be a certain amount of sympathy with regards how one could deploy such a number of players effectively.

However, having qualified for the World Cup with relative ease, the timing of De Bruyne's complaints come at a time when Martinez is undoubtedly aware that opportunities to train with his players collectively will be few and far between.

Perhaps a reflection of his increasing importance to the team, or a consequence of his exposure to Guardiola and his fastidious approach to tactical analysis, De Bruyne elaborated his concerns further with a keen awareness of the issues in mind:

We are playing a system that is very defensive, but filled with many attacking players who want the ball.

Then you get a bit of a problem, like on Friday against Mexico, a match in which we had very little ball possession and everyone in a system that does not really suit.

We now know that something has to be changed against these teams.

Given that his perceived tactical limitations were a key component in the growing resentment against Martinez at Everton, De Bruyne's comments are sure to resonate with worrying Belgian fans also.

With a friendly against Japan to play on Tuesday night, the Spaniard will surely be aware that another poor performance from his star-studded side is not likely to abate the increasing concerns of players that are beginning to realise that participating alone ought not necessarily define their World Cup experience next summer.

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Arthur James O'Dea

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