A key period for Martinez and Everton
It has been another frustrating and disappointing season for Everton, but they are still in with a chance of winning the FA Cup. In addition to granting qualification for European football next year, it would most importantly be the first piece of silverware the club has won since 1995.
On April 23 the Toffees will play either Manchester United or West Ham United at Wembley and neither is a particularly inviting opponent. Manchester United were imperious at Goodison Park in October, while West Ham are riding high in fifth in the table at the moment.
Everton's cup run comes at a particularly crucial time. Roberto Martinez's side have been largely frustrating for the second successive season and the pressure on Martinez is building considerably. For those supporters who would like to see Martinez gone, the reality is it would be unlikely that Everton win a major trophy and Martinez loses his job. But it seems that Martinez will be judged on the next ten games, but especially the FA Cup, to see whether the former Wigan Athletic boss is the right man to take the club forward.
Investment only raises the expectation, but the ambition must become a reality
Coupled with the onset of the new Premier League television deal, Farhad Moshiri's investment means that the club will have greater financial clout, which only raises the expectation further. Roberto Martinez has always stated his aim was to get Everton into the Champions League during his time at the Toffees, but nearly three seasons later and the coach has so far failed to deliver.
At the moment, Everton are not close to making the ambition a reality as they are currently 12th in the league, 13 points behind fourth-placed Manchester City. But the question is how long will Martinez have to show that he is the right man to take Everton to the next step? In modern football, managers do not get long to show what they are capable of and the new investment will only increase the pressure on Martinez to succeed.
Martinez must show between now and the end of the season that he is the right man for Everton in the long-term and the only way he can achieve that is by a strong end to the season to build the platform for next season.
Supporters losing patience
Earlier this month, Goodison Park reverberated with the sounds of triumph, fight and harmony after Everton beat Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup to book a place in the semi-final of the competition. However, a week later, the mood was totally different. Despair and resentment are just two of the words to describe the mood after Everton's 2-0 defeat to Arsenal.
Those contrasting emotions have been the story of Everton's season that has been plagued with inconsistency. The team have lost just once away from home in the league this season, whereas the Toffees supporters have seen their side suffer eight home defeats. Having strong, consistent home form is the foundation to success for any team and until they improve their record at Goodison Park, then any progress made away from home will constantly be undermined.
It is crucial Everton improve their home form between now and the end of the season, with home games against Southampton, Bournemouth and Norwich City; if only to provide the supporters with something to cheer about. But good form between now and the end of the season both home and away, including a place in the FA Cup final, could show the Everton board and supporters that Martinez is the right man to take the club forward.