Roberto Martinez paid the price for Everton’s Premier League nosedive when he was relieved of his duties yesterday with one game of the season still to play.
The club’s board acted swiftly to dismiss Martinez in the wake of Wednesday night’s 3-0 defeat at Sunderland, which kept the Wearsiders up and extended Everton’s recent run to one win in their last 10 games.
The 42-year-old was to have faced protests from fans at the club’s player of the year dinner last night which was postponed, and tomorrow’s final home game against Norwich.
But now attention will turn to appointing a successor to the Spaniard with Frank de Boer — who resigned from his role as Ajax coach also yesterday — emerging as the clear early favourite.
Martinez, who succeeded David Moyes in 2013 and had three years left on his contract, had insisted at the Stadium of Light that the players were still “100%” behind him.
But the board, including new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, clearly disagreed, issuing a statement which read: “Everton Football Club regrets to announce that Roberto Martinez has left his position as first team manager with immediate effect.
“The chairman and the board of directors would like to place on record their thanks for the dedication and commitment Roberto has shown during his three seasons with the club.
“Roberto has been a great ambassador for the club, conducting himself, at all times, with the utmost integrity and dignity. He secured the club its highest ever Premier League points total, a place in the last 16 of the Europa League and appearances in both domestic cup semi-finals.
“He has also played a key role in the development of several young players, managing their progression to the Everton first team and international honours.”
Martinez joined Everton in 2013 after leading Wigan to an unlikely FA Cup triumph, and took them to 11th place in his first season in charge.
But a testing current campaign slumped to a new low in a 4-0 derby defeat to Liverpool last month, and an FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United all but ended any hopes Martinez had of retaining his role beyond the summer.
The timing of Martinez’s departure will inevitably fuel speculation over a move for de Boer, who leaves Ajax having failed to win back the Eredivisie title from arch-rivals PSV last weekend.
De Boer’s agent has previously indicated his client would be interested in the Goodison Park job, and his brother Ronald told Sky Sports on Thursday: “In my eyes he’s the right man for the job but it’s up to Everton to make their move.”
Outgoing Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini and former boss Moyes are also seen to be among the contenders.
In the meantime, the club announced David Unsworth and Joe Royle will be in charge for Sunday’s final game of the season against Norwich.
Sunderland’s win was the final nail for Martinez but Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce felt the Spaniard should have been given more time and will return to the game as a better manager.
“The job is getting more and more difficult because of the impatience now in the game of football,” said Allardyce.
“My sympathy goes out to Roberto Martinez, but he will no doubt bounce back. He is a good manager, a very, very good manager and he’s proved that. As difficult as it will be for him to take the sack now he will bounce back better and stronger. I really, really think he deserves a bit more time, but I’m not the man in charge.”
Fans’ group Everton Supporters said Martinez had initially lifted the club and left them with an impressive squad, but that now was time for change. “Martinez made us dream and gave us some amazing memories,” the group tweeted.
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