Martinez hails fans despite dissenting banners

Date published: Saturday 9th April 2016 7:22

Roberto Martinez hailed Everton’s fans as “the best in world football” despite some holding up a banner calling for him to go.

The visiting section unfurled two banners prior to Everton’s 1-1 draw at Watford, one of which described Leighton Baines, who was forced to apologise for criticising his team following their 1-0 defeat at Manchester United, as “one of us”.

They also jeered the stalemate, which, following victories by Bournemouth and Swansea, sees Everton drop to 14th in the table. But when asked if their dissatisfaction is doing little to help Everton’s cause, Martinez said: “No, it is the opposite. We share that feeling.

“The fans are allowed to express their views, and once the game started the support was magnificent. For me they are the best fans in world football.”

Everton will face either West Ham or Manchester United for a place in the FA Cup final later this month, but their form in the Premier League has been below-par.

Their draw at Watford, where James McCarthy opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time, only for Jose Holebas to equalise 38 seconds later, ended a run of three successive losses.

Martinez continued: “Any time we play, we know we can rely on our support. I don’t expect any fan to be happy after three defeats in the league. We are not happy with it, but what is important is that we perform really well.

“We are a football club going into a very important period, and clearly everything we do is to make our fans proud so I have no problem with that.”

Everton host Southampton on Wednesday, but Phil Jagielka is unlikely to feature after sustaining a hamstring injury, while Ross Barkley also limped off with a knee problem.

On Barkley, Martinez added: “He had a knock and he couldn’t really stretch his legs in the second half. That was a real disappointment as I thought he looked really fresh.

“He created a real problem to the Watford defence, and I don’t think they could cope with his movement and his understanding of the space. We are going to assess him tonight and see how serious that knock it. I don’t think it is a serious problem, to prevent him from being involved on Wednesday.

“Jagielka is probably a bigger worry. He felt his hamstring and Phil doesn’t get injured that often. When he asks to come off it is a worry.”

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