Richard Buxton: Belgium feel the blues
Martinez's tactical naivety shows as his side relinquish 2-0 lead to lose 5-2
Life at the top is becoming an increasingly lonely existence for Roberto Martinez.
The Belgium coach has been long championed for greatness, but an asterisk invariably looms overhead. Capitulation dovetails with cohesion for the Catalan just as night follows day.
A 5-2 defeat by Switzerland killed Martinez's ambition of reaching the managerial pantheon as well as the Red Devils' hopes of Nations League progress.
In isolation, their first defeat since falling to France in the World Cup semi-finals four months ago, would be considered a blip; a rare blemish on a record of five victories and a stalemate with a resurgent Holland side under Ronald Koeman, who replaced Martinez at Everton.
Not for the first time, however, Martinez's mask slipped.
To surrender a two-goal lead in Lucerne yesterday morning (Singapore time) is careless in the first instance; finishing up soundly beaten on more than one occasion is a different matter entirely.
Joylessness saw Marc Wilmots reach the end of the line with his homeland.
Tactical indecision coupled with a double-header of disappointment at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 failed to vindicate the shackling of a team widely considered to be Belgium's greatest.
An abrasive relationship with several leading players further undermined the former captain's case. Martinez represented a left-field choice and supposed antithesis to Wilmots, as well as fellow contender Louis van Gaal, who was considered too "boring" for the role.
But echoes of Wilmots' errors have continued to rear their head, both on and off the pitch.
Stylistically, Martinez has struggled to win over those still within the dressing room, with Kevin de Bruyne previously a vocal critic of Martinez's approach.
A penny for the Manchester City talisman's thoughts as his country were again undone by their manager's tactical naivety at a time when they should have been far out of sight.
On Merseyside, Martinez had lulled Everton supporters into a similar false sense of security.
Reviving a brand of swashbuckling football last witnessed by the Goodison Park faithful in their mid-1980s heyday was immediately followed by a repeat of the ensuing decade's doldrums.
Only rousing finishes staved off the threat of EPL relegation in the season's final furlong.
Martinez's admission that Belgium "forgot to defend well" in their humiliation at the Swissporarena will be familiar to those who endured his Everton demise at close-hand.
For a coach so fixated on attention to detail, his refusal to get the team's basics right remains staggering.
Set-pieces became an Achilles' heel for the Toffees, while France's own routine in Russia produced a vital breakthrough in a semi-final of relative brinkmanship.
Negligence in open play is another recurring theme of the Martinez playbook; typified by all bar one of the Switzerland goals arriving from floated balls into the box.
With both club and country, his ability to galvanise Romelu Lukaku became the sole salvation. In the Manchester United striker's absence against the Swiss, he belatedly turned to Michy Batshuayi and Divock Origi, the latter restricted to a solitary outing for Liverpool this season.
Until Martinez finally sets aside his blue-sky ideology, Belgium will never live up to their hype.
SWITZERLAND: Yann Sommer, Kevin Mbabu, Nico Elvedi, Timm Klose, Ricardo Rodriguez, Edimilson Fernandes, Granit Xhaka, Remo Freuler (Denis Zakaria 79), Steven Zuber (Loris Benito 87), Xherdan Shaqiri, Haris Seferovic (Albian Ajeti 90+2)
BELGIUM: Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany, Dedryck Boyata, Thomas Meunier (Divock Origi 90), Youri Tielemans, Axel Witsel, Nacer Chadli (Michy Batshuayi 65), Thorgan Hazard, Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard