Roberto Martinez wants Everton to put their poor Premier League form behind them when they face Manchester United in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday.
The Toffees travel down to London just days after an embarrassing 4-0 loss to Liverpool in this week’s Merseyside derby raised fresh questions about Everton manager Martinez’s future at Goodison Park.
Defeat by their local rivals meant Everton have now gone seven games without a league victory and added to the pressure on Spanish boss Martinez. But were they to win a first major trophy in 21 years by lifting the FA Cup, Everton could yet salvage their season.
But first they must see off an increasingly in-form United and Everton’s task has not been made easier by the fact that full-back Seamus Coleman and skipper Phil Jagielka both have hamstring problems.
Meanwhile, central defender John Stones faces a fitness test after coming off with stomach cramps against Liverpool and experienced midfielder Gareth Barry has a groin problem.
Everton will also definitely be without Ramiro Funes Mori after the centre-back was sent off for a reckless challenge on Liverpool’s Divock Origi at Anfield.
But Martinez, who guided Wigan to a shock 1-0 win over Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup final, said Everton had it in them to disregard their troubles.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
As for the speculation and fan protests regarding his own position, Martinez 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.”