Roberto Martinez believes Everton’s recent loss of form in the Premier League can be attributed to them reaching the FA Cup semi-finals.
Involvement in the latter stages of the cup has brought the league campaigns of both Everton and Watford, their opponents on Saturday, to a grinding halt, with the Toffees losing their last three matches and the Hornets their last four.
Martinez said: “You can work on every aspect of the game, and every technicality, but confidence comes with achieving good results and feeling good about yourself.
“It’s something we need to regain with a good performance and getting back to winning ways. It’s as simple as that. We need to simplify it.
“We should forget about the semi-final. Every team that got through to the semi-finals, they haven’t won a game in the league.
“That’s probably something that happens when you reach a real high, it’s difficult to reach the same level in the next few games. That’s why we need to control the level of performance in the game against Watford.
“They are in a similar situation. First and foremost I think Watford have had an outstanding season.
“We faced them in the opening game of the campaign, they surprised us with how quickly they got into the tempo of the Premier League, how well organised Quique Sanchez Flores had the team, the partnership that has been so successful playing up front, and I think they are not a surprise any more.
“What they are doing in the cup is probably what makes it a really interesting game. Both sides are desperate to get the form into the league.”
Watford were challenging for the European spots not long ago but a run of only two wins in 10 league games has seen them slide to 14th, two places and one point below Everton.
But the Hornets had overachieved and their priority for the season, safety, has surely already been secured.
It is a different story for Everton, with fans growing increasingly angry about results, particularly at home, and frustrated by Martinez’s relentless positivity.
The Spaniard is expected to select Leighton Baines for Saturday’s match after the full-back apologised for saying Everton lacked chemistry.
Martinez insisted Baines’ words had been misinterpreted and there is no problem within the squad.
Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar are both doubtful after missing last weekend’s defeat by Manchester United with knocks but fellow midfielder Gareth Barry returns from suspension.
Martinez will hope the veteran’s presence can inspire Everton to a change in fortune, and the Spaniard said: “Gareth is one of those footballers that you really miss when he’s not there.
“He’s such a consistent performer, someone that is prepared to do all those jobs that allow the team to be balanced and allow the huge attributes to show.”