In what is likely the biggest week of Roberto Martinez’s Everton career, he is not allowing the sheer magnitude of it elude him and has even labelled it "defining".
A midweek Merseyside derby clash with Liverpool and then a trip south to play Manchester United in an FA Cup Semi-Final when the pressure is ramping up for Martinez will definitely define his Everton career. He is unfazed by the Goodison Park faithful’s anger and criticism towards him, his tactics and his team but he has to recognise the fact that if this week is truly defining, where will that leave him?
With managerial replacements reportedly being sounded out, a potentially fantastic week for Everton could turn very sour.
The defining week
A derby week like no other. Roberto Martinez will have to balance his side's Premier League standing with the chance to progress to the FA Cup final. The Toffees’ manager has mentioned the word defining no less than 10 times since Saturday’s game with Southampton and will have to back up those words.
The Spaniard knows what the derby means to the fans. This will be his sixth Merseyside derby and he’s only missing a win to complete the set at Anfield. As usual there is always that little bit extra to play for when you meet your rivals.
The Blues boss said that there’s always an “extra spice” and that he is “looking forward to it.” With a pivotal game against Manchester United on Saturday, Martinez wants his players to “enjoy their football” in this derby but to also “make the fans proud.”
The emerging youngsters
Callum Connolly and Tom Davies made their Everton senior squad debuts against Southampton as substitutes. The pairs introductions lifted the Goodison Park crowd, again proud to see another youngster come through the ranks. That was signified when Connolly, to the delight of the crowd, cleared a corner only a few moments after being brought on.
Roberto Martinez said that seeing that is a “big positive” and one they are looking to build on.
With young players, there is always the questions of whether or not they are mentally ready to make the step up. The Blues boss though is adamant that the pair are ready and that their development is in “safe hands.”
Seamus Coleman will miss the derby clash with a hamstring injury he picked up at the weekend against Southampton. The taented full-back faces a fitness battle to play in the FA Cup game with Manchester United. Tony Hibbert played 45 minutes for the Everton U21’s on Monday and could finally return to the first team squad this week.
Captain Phil Jagielka will also miss the midweek game with Liverpool. However, Ramiro Funes Mori should continue to deputise ease.
Aaron Lennon, Leighton Baines and Tom Cleverley will all be assessed ahead of the trip to Anfield and should be in the squad to travel to Wembley. Lennon and Baines picked up knocks against Crystal Palace last week while Cleverley has been out injured for a few weeks.