Everton pointed out the positives of Roberto Martinez’s time in charge at Goodison Park after confirming his exit as manager on Thursday afternoon.
Martinez, who replaced David Moyes as manager in 2013, had faced mounting calls for his departure after a run of just one win in their last 10 games.
Wednesday night’s 3-0 defeat at Sunderland proved to be the final straw, with the 42-year-old removed from his position ahead of Everton’s final game of the season against Norwich City at Goodison Park on Sunday.
Everton Football Club regrets to announce that Roberto Martinez has left his position as First Team Manager with immediate effect.
— Everton (@Everton) May 12, 2016
Everton broke the news on Twitter before releasing a statement on their official website, which read: “The chairman and the board of directors would like to place on record their thanks for the dedication and commitment Roberto has shown during his three seasons with the club.
“Roberto has been a great ambassador for the club, conducting himself, at all times, with the utmost integrity and dignity. He secured the club its highest ever Premier League points total, a place in the last 16 of the Europa League and appearances in both domestic cup semi-finals.
“He has also played a key role in the development of several young players, managing their progression to the Everton first team and international honours.”
However, Martinez had faced mounting criticism over his tactics during the current campaign, as well as the form of big-name stars such as Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and John Stones.
And the defeat at the Stadium of Light, which also guaranteed Sunderland’s top-flight safety, effectively rendered Martinez’s position untenable.
Early favourites emerge
In one last show of defiance, Martinez had insisted after the Sunderland game his players were “100 per cent” behind him, and brushed off questions over his future.
But such was the extent of his side’s shambolic display in the north east – coming four days after an equally poor defeat at Leicester – it was clear the club’s board, including new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, would act.
The timing of Martinez’s departure will inevitably fuel speculation over a move for Frank de Boer, who announced he was leaving his role as Ajax coach on Thursday morning.
Outgoing Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini and former boss David Moyes have also already been installed among the favourites to succeed Martinez at Goodison Park.
It was not immediately clear who would lead Everton in their final match of the season against relegated Norwich at Goodison Park on Sunday.
Martinez joined Everton in 2013 after leading Wigan to an unlikely FA Cup triumph, and took them to 11th place in his first season in charge.
But a testing campaign slumped to a new low in a 4-0 derby defeat to Liverpool last month, and an FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United all but ended any hopes Martinez had of retaining his role beyond the summer.
Fans had been planning to protest at the club’s scheduled Player of the Year dinner in Liverpool on Thursday, but their calls for Martinez’s dismissal have now been heard.
Everton later confirmed the dinner, scheduled for St George’s Hall, have been postponed.