Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists he is still the right man for the job after an FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United increased pressure on his position.
Anthony Martial’s goal deep into injury time gave United a 2-1 victory at Wembley to end Martinez’s hopes of bringing Everton their first trophy since 1995’s FA Cup win.
Martinez defiant on future
Asked whether he felt he was still the man to take Everton forward amid growing speculation that this was a game he had to win to survive, he said: “I am. I have got so attached to this football club and my ambition is exactly the same as this club’s ambition.
“We have handled our assets really well, the squad has a great valuation. We develop young players very well and I share the drive the football club has, which is to get into the Champions League and to bring silverware back to Everton.”
Martinez has faced growing unrest from Everton’s fans, who jeered their team off at half-time at Wembley before a second-half rally brought them back into the game.
There will now be renewed pressure on Martinez after the end of their trophy hopes and with Everton lying in 11th place in the Premier League.
He said: “I just feel that every season we are developing and showing certain signs that we can please our fans and bring them the silverware they deserve but of course this is a difficult day.”
Martinez defended striker Romelu Lukaku after he endured a miserable semi-final of missed chances and had a second-half penalty saved by Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.
He said: “I always feel strikers need to be measured in the chances they create and sometimes you need to give credit to the goalkeeper. I thought we created as a team and he showed his power and his uniqueness. I don’t think that’s a worry at all.
“I thought his second-half performance was one of a mature footballer. He held the ball up and we played around him. He is only 22. It shows we want to give young players big roles.”
‘As cruel as football can be’
“The feeling we share now is that this is as cruel as football can be,” said Martinez.
“I thought it was a terrific game but it took us 45 minutes to get into our rhythm, although then we showed a strong mentality to stay in the game and we created the best two chances.
“In the second half, I thought we built up incredible tempo and intensity to impose ourselves on the game but at the end the whole story becomes very heartbreaking.”
With England manager Roy Hodgson looking on, his international captain Wayne Rooney showed his class – and perhaps the future – in a deep-lying role behind United’s attack.
In the opening half especially, afforded time and space by a timid Everton, Rooney not only showed his full range of passes to create chances and dictate the game, he even showed the energy to get back and clear Lukaku’s early goalbound effort off the line.
Rooney’s place in England’s attack has come under increasing scrutiny with the emergence of Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy as potential rivals, but this was the sort of performance that might just give Hodgson food for thought as he makes his plans for Euro 2016.
Lukaku’s Wembley nightmare
Romelu Lukaku was responsible for bringing Everton to this semi-final with two goals and a powerhouse performance against Chelsea in the quarter-final – but he had a game to forget here.
He had two good chances in the first half but twice his touch was heavy and let him down, then when his big chance came from the penalty spot he was thwarted by an admittedly brilliant save from De Gea.
Lukaku simply could not find the magic touch and his face was a mask of bitter disappointment at the final whistle.
He has made regular noises about possibly leaving Everton in the summer – he will not do so with a trophy to his name after a performance that came up short.
Van Gaal trophy hopes live on
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has been surrounded by constant speculation about his Old Trafford future – but the dramatic conclusion here at Wembley means he still retains the hope of winning a trophy at every club he has coached or managed.
This was a two-faced United performance, excellent in the first half but ragged for much of the second and yet, as they have done through much of this FA Cup campaign, Van Gaal’s team got the job done and are through to their first FA Cup Final since 2007.
Whether he survives as United manager or not, he has the chance to make sure United have silverware to remember him by. He will lead United out as favourites in the final.
What now for Martinez?
Martinez heard his players roundly jeered by thousands of Everton fans at they left the pitch after a dreadful first-half performance, but they were a team transformed after half-time and deserved to take this semi-final into extra time.
After the debacle of the 4-0 loss to Liverpool in the Merseyside derby, Everton at least regained some pride and credibility in a second half in which they turned the tide of this semi-final.
The bottom line, however, is that Everton once again conceded a last-minute goal – almost a trademark this season – and in a week that Martinez himself admitted was “defining”, he has ended up a loser to both Liverpool and Manchester United.
With Everton’s new major shareholder, Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri, watching from Wembley’s directors’ box, Martinez will at least have a hard-luck story to tell. Whether it saves his job is another matter altogether.
Man of the match – Wayne Rooney
The stats you need to know
Marouane Fellaini has scored two goals in five FA Cup appearances this season – double his league tally (1 in 17 apps).
Four of Anthony Martial’s seven assists for Manchester United this season have come in the FA Cup.
Romelu Lukaku has missed his last two penalties for Everton after scoring his previous five for the club (all competitions).
Chris Smalling scored his first own-goal since April 2010 (all comps), when he did so against Everton while playing for Fulham.
Martial scored and assisted in the same game for the third time this season.
Martial has been involved in 21 goals for United this season, registering 14 goals and seven assists in all competitions.
United have progressed to their first FA Cup Final since 2007.
Everton have been eliminated in their last two FA Cup semi-final appearances, also losing in 2012 to Liverpool.
This is the first time in three FA Cup semi-final meetings between the sides that United have been victorious, having been knocked out by the Toffees in 1966 and 2009.
BBC Sport outlines the battles for promotion and relegation – and the race for Europe – in England and Scotland.
RECENT PROMOTIONS AND RELEGATIONS
The top three teams will qualify for the group stage of next season’s Champions League, with the fourth-placed team set to enter in the play-off round.
The fifth-placed team will enter the Europa League at the group stage, as will the FA Cup winners.
Leicester City are guaranteed a top-four finish following their 2-0 win against Sunderland on 10 April and will clinch the title with two games to spare if they win at Manchester United on Sunday.
Manchester City are already assured of at least a Europa League place after winning the Capital One Cup. If they finish in the top four, their place in the Europa League third qualifying round will pass to the sixth-placed team. The same will happen if they secure a place in the Europa League group stage by finishing fifth.
Should City win the Champions League and finish outside the top four, they will enter the Champions League at the group stage. If Liverpool win the Europa League, they will qualify for the Champions League.
Uefa does not permit more than five teams from one association to play in the Champions League in one season. So if City and Liverpool both win their respective European trophies and both finish outside the top four, then the fourth-placed Premier League team will transfer to the Europa League.
There are no longer any Fair Play places allocated to the Europa League.
The top two teams will be promoted to the Premier League, with the next four teams entering the play-offs.
Two of Burnley, Middlesbrough and Brighton will fill the automatic spots, with the third-placed team contesting the play-offs alongside Hull, Derby and either Sheffield Wednesday or Cardiff – who meet on Saturday. Wednesday will clinch that last place if they avoid defeat.
The top two teams will be promoted to the Championship, with the next four sides entering the play-offs.
Leaders Wigan are all but up, needing one more point to confirm their place in the Championship. They will be promoted if they avoid defeat at Blackpool on Saturday, or if Walsall fail to win on Monday. Meanwhile, Burton will also be promoted this weekend if they better Walsall’s result.
Burton and Walsall are certain of at least a play-off place. Millwall, Bradford and Barnsley can book the three remaining play-off spots this weekend.
The bottom four teams will be relegated to League Two. Crewe Alexandra were the first team to fall, relegated on 9 April after a 3-0 defeat at Port Vale. Colchester United went down on 23 April as they lost 3-0 to Burton. Doncaster and Blackpool will join them if results go against them on Saturday.
The top three teams will be promoted to League One, with the next four sides entering the play-offs.
Northampton Town secured promotion on 9 April after drawing 2-2 with Bristol Rovers and were crowned champions after a goalless draw at Exeter on 16 April. Accrington, Oxford, Bristol Rovers, Plymouth and Portsmouth are all assured of at least a play-off place, and are battling for second and third place. Accrington and/or Oxford could clinch promotion on Saturday if results go in their favour. The last play-off spot is between Wimbledon and Cambridge.
The next four teams will contest the play-offs – where Forest Green Rovers, Grimsby Town and Dover Athletic will be joined by either Braintree, Tranmere or Eastleigh. Braintree will secure their place if they avoid defeat on the final day of the season – but a loss could let in Tranmere or Eastleigh if they win.
The bottom four teams will be relegated, and replaced by the champions and play-off winners of the National League North and South divisions.
Kidderminster Harriers and Welling United were both relegated on 16 April when they failed to beat Barrow and Chester respectively. Altrincham and Guiseley are favourites to join them, while Halifax and Boreham Wood remain in danger going into Saturday’s final round of games.
Solihull Moors won National League North on 12 April, while Sutton United won the South title on 23 April.
The Premiership has split in half after the 33rd round of games, with the top six and the bottom six playing the other teams in their ‘half’ for a fourth and final time.
The champions – Celtic or Aberdeen – will enter the Champions League at the second qualifying round. Whoever does not win the title will join Hearts in the Europa League first qualifying round, while the Scottish Cup winners – Rangers or Hibernian – will enter the second qualifying round.
Celtic will clinch the title on Saturday if they win at Hearts and Aberdeen fail to win, or if they draw and Aberdeen lose. Realistically though, goal difference means Celtic will finish top if they match Aberdeen’s result.
There are no longer any Fair Play places allocated to the Europa League.
The bottom team will be relegated to the Scottish Championship, while the 11th-placed side will face the winners of the Championship play-offs over two legs, with the losers condemned to a place in the second tier next season.
If Kilmarnock win at Hamilton on Saturday, Dundee United (already guaranteed to finish in the bottom two) will be relegated if they lose at rivals Dundee on Monday.
However, if Killie lose, they will be guaranteed to finish in the bottom two if Partick avoid defeat.
The third and fourth-placed teams will meet in the first round of the play-offs, with the winners playing the division’s second-placed team. Whoever emerges victorious from that two-legged encounter will face the second-bottom side in the Premiership – again on a home-and-away basis – with a spot in the top flight the prize.
Falkirk, Hibernian and Raith Rovers will fill the play-off places, with their final positions still to be finalised.
Alloa Athletic’s relegation to League One was confirmed when they drew 0-0 at Livingston on 2 April. Ninth-placed Livingston will enter a play-off with three League One sides.
SCOTTISH LEAGUE ONE
Dunfermline Athletic were promoted to the Championship after clinching the title on 26 March by beating Brechin City 3-1. The next three teams will enter a play-off with the ninth-placed Championship side, with Peterhead and Ayr United to be joined by either Stranraer, Airdrieonians or Albion Rovers.
East Fife are promoted to League One as champions, winning the title on 16 April with a 0-0 draw at Clyde. The teams finishing second, third and fourth will enter a play-off with the ninth-placed League One team. The three play-off spots are between Queen’s Park, Elgin, Clyde and Annan.
East Stirling will finish bottom after they were beaten 3-0 by Queen’s Park on 9 April. They will enter a play-off against the winner of a two-legged tie between Highland League champions Cove Rangers and Lowland League winners Edinburgh City for the final place in next season’s League Two. Edinburgh lead the tie 3-0 from the first leg, with the second leg on Saturday.
Liverpool, who are seventh in the Premier League, host Newcastle at Anfield on Saturday.
Sakho’s Liverpool team-mate Kolo Toure was banned for six months in 2011 while at Manchester City after testing positive for a weight-loss drug contained within “water tablets” recommended to him by his wife.
A similar ban for Sakho would rule him out of Euro 2016 in France, which starts on 10 June.
BBC Radio 5 live senior football reporter Ian Dennis
“This is a player charge rather than a charge to the club.
“It doesn’t mean Sakho is suspended – he would be eligible today and for Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg against Villarreal.
“However, the owners, manager Jurgen Klopp, chief executive Ian Ayre and the player himself all felt it was in the best interests for him not to be available while the process was ongoing.”