Martinez wants Everton ‘togetherness’ at Wembley

Date published: Friday 22nd April 2016 10:35

Roberto Martinez Everton

Roberto Martinez insists Everton will put their league troubles behind them and pull together to try to reach the FA Cup final.

The Toffees face Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday on the back of a humiliating 4-0 defeat by Liverpool in the Merseyside derby in midweek.

That made it seven games without a victory in the Premier League and piled more pressure on manager Martinez, whose position is under intense scrutiny.

To make matters worse, the Spaniard is facing a defensive crisis, with Seamus Coleman ruled out, Phil Jagielka almost certain not to play and Ramiro Funes Mori suspended following his red card at Anfield.

John Stones faces a fitness test after coming off against Liverpool with stomach cramps but Martinez is optimistic he will be fit.

The Everton boss said: “We carry hurt and that’s normal after what happened in the last game, but clearly the focus is about the opportunity of being in the semi-final of the FA Cup.

“Since the quarter-final against Chelsea, results haven’t been good enough, and that’s something we’ll try to look into next week when we face the next league game.

“We’ve got four league games left and we’ll try to give everything we’ve got. But at the moment everything is about the semi-final and everything is about taking our football club to Wembley with a really strong feeling of being together, of facing adversity in an exemplary way and being as good as we can in front of a very strong opposition.”

The match has been presented as make or break for Martinez, with Everton fans calling for his head in increasing numbers.

The 42-year-old, who won the FA Cup with Wigan in 2013, has so far shrugged off questions about his future and it was the same again.

He said: “I wouldn’t be professional if I would be using my time on talking about what people think and what the feeling is around the manager.

“My position is to use the time as well as we can to prepare the team, to get everyone ready for the next game. The turnaround has been very, very quick but all that matters is how quickly we can get focused for the semi-final.

“We’ve been working very hard since I arrived at the football club to be able to be at Wembley, to be very close to challenging for silverware, and that’s the opportunity we have.

“Of course we’re carrying hurt but whatever you carry into a semi-final, sometimes it’s good momentum, sometimes it’s negative momentum, it doesn’t really matter when the whistle goes.”

Funes Mori has been heavily criticised for his challenge, which left Liverpool striker Divock Origi with a potentially-serious ankle injury.

The Argentinian apologised to Origi on Twitter on Thursday and Martinez confirmed the pair had discussed the matter but refused to confirm whether he had faced censure for his conduct after the challenge.

Funes Mori grabbed the badge on his shirt as he walked off in a seemingly misguided show of loyalty.

Martinez said: “Obviously I had a conversation with Ramiro but, with the proximity of the semi-final, the preparation has been about the next game.

“Ramiro knows he maybe should have measured that challenge a little bit better but that’s water under the bridge now, we’ve moved on from that.”

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