Roberto Martinez’s defining week did not get off to the start he would have hoped for. A lifeless and dismal display in the Merseyside derby did not help his already fractious relationship with the Everton fan base.
With rumours surrounding his job, some even going as far as saying Martinez will not be in charge much longer should this game also end in defeat, the Blues boss and his squad have to stand up and make themselves counted under the Wembley arch.
Speaking at his weekly press conference, the Toffees boss is focusing on the game ahead and not his job security. He said his side have been “working hard” since the beginning to get Everton “closer to silverware.”
The Blues mood
Everton fans are not happy and with Everton players seemingly unable to get on to the same page, the mood surrounding Goodison Park has turned incredibly sour.
Roberto Martinez says he is ready to turn that around and end the season on a high.
The Blues boss said his squad will use the Capital One Cup disappointment as “motivation” for this game. For many fans, winning the FA Cup will not paper over the cracks of the disappointing past 18 months.
Evertonians want a team that will fight and put their heart into the game. Martinez claims that he and his squad will do just that in this game.
He said that his side will “give everything we have” in these last few games, starting with a big performance against Manchester United.
What an FA Cup win would do for the club
Talk of lifting silverware is still a hope for Everton but they first need to overcome Manchester United.
Putting themselves in a position to potentially lift a trophy would galvanise the fan base and give the team a target to achieve at the end of another - up to this point - wasted season.
The Toffees have gone too long without silverware and with a win over United, they would have a shot to rectify a 21 year dry spell with lifting a trophy. Martinez was able to bring FA Cup success to Wigan Athletic and says the experience he has “helps” but the Blues need to “be clear.”
With Ramiro Funes Mori suspended and Phil Jagielka facing a late fitness test, Martinez has a centre back selection headache on his hands. John Stones should be ready but who will his partner be?
Muhamed Besic can fit in at centre back but that is not ideal for a game of this importance for the Blues.
The influential Gareth Barry also faces a late fitness test. He was substituted at half time on Wednesday night with a groin problem. Darron Gibson could play in his place should Barry not be fully fit to play.
Seamus Coleman will definitely be missing for the Blues, leaving them with a lack of experience at right back. Bryan Oviedo deputised against Liverpool but didn’t play well at all.
Roberto Martinez has played Aaron Lennon and James McCarthy in that role at times but has already recalled youngster Matthew Pennington from Walsall, who has joined up with the squad.
Pennington performed well in pre-season and in the Capital One Cup when he has given a chance in the win over Barnsley.