Sport Soccer

Saturday 22 July 2017

Martinez facing make-or-break week

Everton manager Roberto Martinez during the Barclays Premier League match at Selhurst Park. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA
Everton manager Roberto Martinez during the Barclays Premier League match at Selhurst Park. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA

Chris Bascombe

When it was suggested to Roberto Martinez after Saturday's 1-1 draw with Southampton at Goodison Park that he was entering a defining week as Everton manager, he did not flinch.

"Of course," he said. "Every team has a defining week. We are going to have our defining week in mid-April. Other teams have defining weeks in February when they are out of the FA Cup."

Martinez was separating what the next seven days mean for the club, for his team and for him. But he knows that all are connected.

Wednesday's Merseyside derby - three days before their FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United - has little consequence for league positions, but the manager's fragile relationship with the fans compels him to take risks at Anfield.

"We are going to be as strong as we can be," he confirmed. "I don't think you can switch on and off. You have to perform well before you go to a semi-final."

Whatever happens against Liverpool, more decisive is the Wembley date. Win that and the promise of Everton's first trophy in 21 years may offer sanctuary for Martinez. But supporters are infuriated by what can now be confirmed - statistically at least - as the club's worst Premier League home season.

Most chose ambivalence over fury on Saturday in a sedate atmosphere before Sadio Mane equalised and a lone fan attempted to confront Martinez.

The invader was jeered as stewards and police escorted him off, but the altercations are becoming too frequent.

New investor Farhad Moshiri must be asking what has happened in the month since his first visit, when Everton dispatched Chelsea in a raucous environment.

Defender Ramiro Funes Mori had offered hope of an all-too-rare home triumph when he took advantage of slack defending, but Everton have been too generous at the other end.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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