Roberto Martínez accepts that dealing with supporter unrest is part of his job as Everton manager after fans unfurled two banners showing discontent with the Spaniard before the 1-1 draw at Watford.
Everton ended a run of three straight Premier League defeats but were denied victory against Watford, similarly out of form, when conceding 38 seconds after taking the lead in first-half injury time. José Holebas’s header from a corner could easily have been prevented after James McCarthy had scored for Everton, and two messages from the away support caught the eye.
One read “Baines is one of us” and the other “Martínez Out”. Leighton Baines questioned his side’s chemistry following the 1-0 defeat at Manchester United on 3 April and, after Martínez said the left-back’s comments were misinterpreted, it was clear whom the Everton fans sympathised with.
“I think that comes with the job,” Martínez said of the banners. “Since day one, my first season at Everton, I’m extremely proud and honoured to be the manager and I accept that the fans are not going to be happy with the team losing and I accept and understand. What’s important is the fans always support the team, always support in whatever way they can and help us to win games – and that’s the only thing that matters.
“They know I would give my life to achieve a winning team. Everything we do is to make them proud, so I’ve got no problem with their discontent at times and football is an emotional game. I wouldn’t expect anyone to be happy with poor standards and losing three games in the league for me, in my eyes, is very poor standards. There were some banners but I understand that completely.”
Asked what he thought of the Baines banner, Martínez said: “I thought Leighton performed extremely well and that’s the only thing you can change as a manager. Leighton, like all of us, is disappointed that we haven’t been able to win football games. It needs to be changed by performing well and winning games, and I thought Leighton didn’t put a foot wrong and his performance was outstanding – and that’s what we all want.”
Watford, like Everton, have little to play for in the Premier League but the sides could meet in the FA Cup final. Such an eventuality would be a repeat of the 1984 final – which Everton won 2-0 – but first Martínez’s side must overcome West Ham United or Manchester United and Watford play Crystal Palace in the other semi-final.
There were T-shirts sold outside the stadium on Saturday celebrating Watford’s Cup run but their coach, Quique Sánchez Flores, admitted the competition is becoming a distraction from the league.
Asked about a potential rematch with Everton at Wembley, he said: “We have the opportunity to get to the final but I am not sure. I understand the question but for me it is like a pain to have to answer about the FA Cup because my mind was completely on Everton and now West Brom [in the league].”
Man of the match Heurelho Gomes (Watford)