Everton vs Manchester United - Martinez positive ahead of crucial FA Cup semi-final

Posted Saturday, April 23, 2016 by PA

Roberto Martinez insists he has faced more difficult times as a manager as he prepares for an FA Cup semi-final labelled make or break for his tenure at Everton.

The growing anger among Toffees fans at the club's form reached a peak on Wednesday as Everton were trounced 4-0 by Liverpool in the Merseyside derby.

With their hopes of achieving anything significant in the league long since gone, the season now rests on the FA Cup and Saturday's semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley.

There is speculation defeat could bring the axe down on Martinez after nearly three years at Goodison Park.

The Spaniard's career took an upward trajectory through spells at Swansea and Wigan, with the Latics' relegation more than balanced out by a spectacular FA Cup triumph in 2013.

That earned Martinez his chance at Everton but after a brilliant first season things have turned sour, and he faces being sacked for the first time.

Asked if these were the toughest moments of his career, Martinez replied: "I wouldn't say that. I think when you are in situations a bit more extreme (it's harder).

"Here of course we are carrying hurt but we're facing the opportunity of achieving something. It's the third time in 20 years that we're going to be in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

"I'm a positive person by nature and I can see this is an opportunity rather than something to lose."

Martinez has shrugged off the growing talk about his future thus far and it was the same again, with the Spaniard insisting his only focus is on preparing the team.

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 experience that I had in the last 10 years, I've been very fortunate to be in high-pressure situations and I know what my role is and what I have to do in order to help the team."

To compound matters for Martinez, he faces real problems in defence.

Funes Mori starts a three-game ban while full-back Seamus Coleman is ruled out by a hamstring injury and captain Phil Jagielka looks set to join him.

Midfielder Gareth Barry, who could have deputised at centre-back, faces a late fitness test on a groin injury but Martinez is at least hopeful John Stones will have recovered from illness.

Everton recalled Matthew Pennington from his loan at Walsall and Martinez confirmed the 21-year-old will be in the squad.

Matteo Darmian is determined to help Manchester United end a disappointing season on a high.

Louis van Gaal's second campaign in the Old Trafford hotseat has been far from straightforward, with underwhelming displays and frustrating results leading pressure to regularly mount.

Inconsistency has wreaked havoc but United remain in the hunt for a top-four finish, while a first major trophy of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era is in sight.

Everton will try to deny the Reds a place in the FA Cup final on Saturday and full-back Darmian is determined to make the end of his first season memorable.

"I think winning has helped us to increase our confidence, but now we have to be focused because the last games are like a final for us and after that we have to wait and see what place we are," the Italy international said.

"I think Manchester United always play to win - to win trophies, to win the Premier League.

"But now we have to be focused on these games that remain because we want to close the season better than (we started it)."



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