Everton boss Roberto Martinez has stressed he and his players share the fans’ current pain and has denied Saturday’s FA Cup game is “make or break”.
The Toffees again squandered a lead last weekend as they lost 3-2 to West Ham, the third Barclays Premier League match this term they have failed to win after holding a two-goal advantage and their seventh home loss.
The current squad is widely regarded as the most talented Everton have had in a generation.
But with them 12th with 10 fixtures left in the league and having exited the Capital One Cup in the semi-finals, the FA Cup appears their only opportunity remaining to achieve any real success in 2015-16.
Everton host Chelsea in the quarter-finals on Saturday, a game which Martinez – the target of considerable criticism from supporters this season – insisted at Thursday’s pre-match press conference he does not see as “make or break”.
But when asked about fans’ frustrations, the Spaniard said: “When you see the work of the players and then you don’t get the rewards you deserve, it is painful.
“(It is) a pain we share with all the fans. The frustration is there.
“I think we were all in the same boat (after the West Ham game).
“We’ve seen outstanding signs this season and that is why it is so frustrating to see in games where we are winning, we throw it away.
“That is why it is so important for us to look forward to this quarter-final, and the rest of the season.
“I just feel this is where we really need to take all the pain and experiences we had this campaign in a good way and get the rewards our performances have deserved.”
He added: “I don’t see it as a make-or-break (game). I see it as the type of game we want to be involved in.
“We have the advantage of playing it at Goodison, and we could achieve something really special.
“After what we had to go through this week, it is the type of game we want to use to our advantage.”
Winger Aaron Lennon (hamstring) is a doubt for the game, along with defender Bryan Oviedo, who was in hospital on Wednesday with a chest infection.
Left-back Leighton Baines has been receiving treatment on an ongoing ankle problem but could come in for Oviedo, while Martinez expects midfielders Gareth Barry and Tom Cleverley, also recently suffering with illness, to be available.
On Tuesday it was announced that Farhad Moshiri’s investment in Everton had been approved by the Premier League, giving him the go-ahead to complete the purchase of a 49.9 per cent stake.
The Iran-born billionaire could be in attendance at Goodison Park on Saturday, and Martinez said: “Mr Moshiri has been really looking forward (to coming).
“It is a new era. We are all really looking forward to seeing that chemistry with the fans and welcoming a new Evertonian into the family.”
Martinez has not had a conversation with Moshiri since Tuesday’s news, but said: “The first step was to get the approval from the Premier League. The next step, I am sure, is Mr Moshiri is going to fall in love with Goodison Park and our fans.
“And from that point on, I’m sure we will get a working relationship.”