Everton manager Roberto Martinez is in trouble. His team is languishing in 11th place in the league, with only two points separating them from Crystal Palace in 16th.
Predictably, the Everton fans, who hardly can be labelled neither spoilt or fickle, are growing restless and last week away fans unfurled a “Martinez out” banner at Vicarage Road prior to the match against Watford.
There are also signs to suggest the Everton players themselves are starting to lose faith in their boss, with Leighton Baines, one of the senior members of the Toffees squad, questioning the chemistry in the team after the defeat against Manchester United a week earlier. Baines has reportedly apologised to Martinez since, but you get a distinct feeling that all is not well behind the scenes at the club's training complex Finch Farm.
SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250 word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay5
Article continues below
Disappointing results, unhappy fans and disillusioned players is a pretty dangerous blend for a manager's job security. Add in a new owner, the Iranian Farhad Moshiri, who bought a 49.9% stake in the club in February - who probably has his own ideas on how the club should be run - and you get a truly lethal cocktail.
If Roberto Martinez wants to lead Everton when the 2016/17 season kicks off in August, he needs to turn the mood at Goodison Park around, and with only a few weeks of the season remaining, the Spaniard is in a hurry.
Article continues below
Luckily for Martinez though, there is still time to rewrite the script of the current season. Everton travel to London at the end of the week, to contest Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
With a win in that game, they are only one step away from doing what no Everton team has done in 21 years; win a trophy. Before that, there is also the small matter of a Merseyside derby to grapple with, as Everton travel the short distance to Anfield on Wednesday evening. Despite the fact neither Everton or Liverpool have much to play for in the league, and that both teams have other priorities, these derby games still mean an awful lot to many fans.
A positive performance against their city rivals and progress to the FA Cup final could go a long way towards rebuilding Martinez' relationship with fans and players at Goodison Park. After all, the Spaniard has got a lot of things right during his three seasons in the job.
Everton have, without a doubt become a lot easier on the eye during that time. When in form, they produce fluent attacking football, and the fans have certainly been served their fair share of goals and goal-scoring opportunities this season. In fact, only five other teams have scored more goals than the Toffees in the league this season.
Martinez should also get a considerable amount of credit for Everton's cup runs, reaching the semi-finals in the Capital One Cup as well as the FA Cup. The laws of gravity seem to be temporarily out of order in English football these days, but in an ordinary season the two domestic cups represent the most realistic chance to win a trophy for a club like Everton, and Martinez seems to be fully aware of that.
Lots of managers speak highly of the cup competitions, and in particular the FA Cup, but when match-day comes around, they just can’t resist the opportunity to rest their best players. Martinez, in contrast, has kept a strong core of players in the cup fixtures.
It is probably no coincidence that the man who led Wigan to a sensational FA Cup triumph in 2013 could be about to lead the blue half of Liverpool to their first cup final since 2009.
All in all, it’s hard to escape the feeling that Roberto Martinez is treated a bit harshly at Merseyside. The Everton boss is often confronted with the argument that with such a talented squad he should achieve much better results.
With the exception of Romelu Lukaku however, who arrived for a £28 million fee, this is not an expensively assembled Everton squad. Key players like Ross Barkley, John Stones, Muhamed Besic, Gerard Deulofeu and their current first choice goalkeeper Joel Robles have either been promoted from the academy or brought in for small transfer fees.
Under the Spaniard's stewardship, they have developed and matured into high-quality Premier League players. Martinez should get plenty of plaudits for this feat, but the argument is more often turned on its head, and instead used as a rod to beat the 42-year-old with.
His position has also been undermined by how Everton's season has unfolded. Although their results this season have undoubtedly been below par, they have never flirted with relegation, and the major criticism that has been thrown at Martinez might seem a bit exaggerated.
The devil however, is in the details. Too many leads have been squandered. A draw is a draw, but it feels very different to draw from a losing position than dropping two points from a winning position. Furthermore, a disproportionately high amount of Everton's defeats this season have come in home games, with eight of their ten losses inflicted upon them at Goodison Park. A loss is a loss, but failing in front of 3.000 travelling fans is more understandable than repeatedly failing in front of 40.000 home fans.
Football is a game of fine margins though, and despite the manager's struggles, you get the feeling that he still has every chance to redeem himself at Everton.
After all, when the club's fans think back on the season 2015/16, they will probably admit that they, in fact, had quite a lot of fun, with dramatic games, goals galore and two very exciting cup runs. Top it all off by lifting the FA Cup trophy at Wembley on May 27, and it could turn into a truly unforgettable season for the Toffees.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms