Roberto Martinez Says Everton’s Trip To Sunderland Is ‘huge
Everton manager Roberto Martinez has called for a reaction from his team after they were brushed aside by Premier League champions Leicester at the weekend.
Martinez has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks and his cause was not helped by Saturday’s 3-1 loss at the King Power when Everton’s goal came very late on, with the result long since settled.
And Everton next face Sunderland on Wednesday night at the Stadium of Light – live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 7pm – and will be facing a pumped-up side who can ensure their top-flight survival with a win.
Martinez was downbeat at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday but dismissed the idea that he had ‘lost’ the players and said his team got distracted by the party atmosphere at Leicester.
“There is no such thing as winning the players back,” said Martinez.
“Two weeks ago, we had a good response. A really good, determined performance, to get a win at home against Bournemouth.
“Then we went away to Leicester in a game where we got caught up with the atmosphere and the celebration of a unique footballing achievement, and probably that lack of intensity cost the performance.
“But we never lost the fight. We scored late in the game and we always wanted to try to get something out of the game. But if you don’t match the intensity of your opponent, it’ll be very, very difficult.”
Everton are 12th in the table with no relegation concerns whatsoever, but the feeling that they have under-performed in relation to the talent within their squad means Martinez’s position is thought to be in doubt.
However, the Spaniard refused to address the issue on Tuesday, insisting his energies are solely focused on getting an improved showing from his team at Sunderland.
“Total focus is on Wednesday night’s game, nothing else is being discussed,” he said.
“It’s a huge, huge game, it’s about reacting to our performance from Leicester. We’re all fighting and have to react tomorrow.
“Sunderland have a little bit of momentum and a feeling of nothing to lose.
“We will have to match them, we are going to learn our lessons from the Leicester game.
“The reaction has been clear, not just this week but after the final whistle. We have a strong desire to get back to our best level.”
Regarding team news, Martinez added: “Ramiro Funes Mori has finished his suspension and Gareth Barry has got a good chance.
“Phil Jagielka and Gerard Deulofeu will not be available.”