Roberto Martínez craves result at Anfield to ease pressure

Everton face huge week with an FA Cup semi-final against Man United looming

A mass reception committee awaited the Borussia Dortmund team coach on its return from Jürgen Klopp’s first Ruhr derby victory over Schalke in September 2010.

“The fans put little Shinji [Kagawa] on their shoulders and carried him,” he recalled.

Klopp's first Merseyside derby may not ignite a similar outpouring with eighth meeting 11th in the Premier League and the priorities of both Liverpool and Everton elsewhere, but that does not diminish its significance for Roberto Martínez.

Fans have gone out of their way to express feelings to the Everton manager recently as his team’s form, belief and fight have ebbed away.


The reception committees for Martínez have included banners calling for him to go, a supporter wanting a word at an under-21s match and a one-man pitch invasion after Southampton equalised at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Mirror image

The 226th Merseyside derby, therefore, appears the mirror image of the 225th, Brendan Rodgers’ final game as Liverpool manager.

Once again, the home side have confidence while pressure mounts on the visiting manager. Martínez does have the chance for an emphatic release; it comes in the form of a first Everton win at Anfield since 1999 plus victory in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley.

“You don’t feel hurt from a manager’s point of view because you need to accept the results are not right. They are not what we expect or what we promote,” he admits. “You are going to get that sort of reaction. From a human point of view, we are all aware of what is going on and that can hurt you. But, in the same way, I’ve had many more signs of fans seeing what we are trying to do and can see where we are.

“I’ve had a few letters since Saturday and I met some fans at the under-21s game on Monday who were supportive.

“Many fans know the squad inside out and they see a change of generation. Since I arrived at the football club there has been a big change in the players, and the big important roles on the football pitch.

“Young players are coming through, adopting a different style. I am not stupid. I bring a different style of football. If we win the games, everything will be fine. If we lose, everything will be my fault. I will always promote a style of football that will allow us to compete with any team‚ not have a roof of the top seven.”

Martínez, who may give 18-year-old Callum Connolly his full debut at Anfield with Phil Jagielka and Séamus Coleman hamstrung, added: "I wouldn't swap it for having a top-seven position that doesn't allow you to go to Europe and not being involved in the cup. We want to be in a position where we can achieve things but it's not going to be an easy ride to do that."


Everton’s season will be shaped by an FA Cup semi-final, Liverpool’s by a Europa League semi-final, but the contrast between the respective manager’s positions and reputations is stark.

Klopp was reluctant to give his thoughts on the Merseyside derby on the basis that he is “the newcomer”. “I don’t want to push anything in this game,” he said. “It is the derby of the people of Liverpool.”

It is also his first experience of a derby between two rivals from the same city. “I think making people happy is the ultimate sense of football,” said Klopp.

“You get emotions in football that usually you cannot get, like last Thursday. To watch this, to be part of something like this is special.

“Every doctor has a much, much more important job than I do but in the end nobody talks about him. We all know about what he does but we don’t really think about it. In football, especially in a city like this when you have to work next to your mates and you see their faces and they look like this [he beams a smile] or you have to look in the other direction, then there is a big difference.”

Hurt yourself

Klopp has told Liverpool’s players to be prepared to “hurt yourself, not someone else”, as he called for cool heads.

Twenty red cards have been issued in the last 46 derbies – the most in a Premier League fixture – although behaviour has improved recently and none has been shown in the last nine league and cup meetings.

Jack Rodwell was the last player to be dismissed in a Merseyside derby in October 2011 and the then Everton midfielder's red was later rescinded.

“A red card can happen for a late challenge or something but not because you want to show you are the man. I understand aggressiveness. Be prepared to hurt yourself, not someone else. If you feel all passionate do more than usual but not in this part of the game.

“It will be intensive. I know about Everton, nearly everything. I met a lot of people since I came to the city. It is a big club, a very successful club in the past, but I don’t know all about the situation there with them having the semi-final on Saturday.

“They are not used to playing two games in a week this season and it is a pretty important game for them on Saturday but we should only think about our line-up. It is only about what we can reach in this Premier League season.

“Liverpool is a club that is very important. We can be fifth at the end, it is better than seventh or eighth. We need to try everything to get the best position at the end.”

Divock Origi missed training on Monday due to a back problem, the Liverpool manager confirmed, but the in-form Belgium striker is expected to be fit for Everton’s visit. Guardian Service