Everton FC manager Roberto Martinez has declared that his side need to make Goodison Park their ‘safe place’ as they look for a late upturn in what to date has been a dismal Premier League campaign.
The Blues have taken just 28 points from as many matches so far but six out of their 10 remaining games are on home turf.
With a mere three Premier League victories all season at Goodison – against West Ham, Aston Villa and QPR – Everton’s form is a far cry from the previous campaign when they won 13 of their 19 home matches.
Martinez said: “We know we can go to Goodison for the last six games of the season, knowing that the fans understand that we need to be together, that we need the support from the beginning.
“We started the season with real expectations of achieving something special in the league. As it stands we never got any momentum.
“We need our fans. We need everyone to help the players. We need to use Goodison as our safe place.”
The Catalan, who took Wigan Athletic down in 2013 just before joining Everton also admitted that the Blues precarious position means that they’re having to face up to a battle against relegation.
Martinez said: “Any team that hasn’t got 40 points in the final third of the season is in a relegation fight. The big advantage I have is that I’ve been through that (before).”
Despite criticism that his team have become too predictable and have somehow been ‘found out’ by domestic opponents, Martinez dismisses suggestions that they over-pass the ball.
He said: ““Never! I don’t think you can. You can never over-pass.
“Passing for the sake of it is not going to take you anywhere. There’s a reason behind every pass.
“We are a very dynamic side as well. We can adapt to different opposition or different situations.
“We’ve got in winning positions, but we haven’t mastered how to keep those leads. We are the team with the biggest number of points lost from winning positions, 17 points which changes completely where you are in the table [8th rather than 14th].
“Our philosophy is that we want to be a team that always goes out for a win, to find a way to control the game, be a dominant force, be dynamic, be flexible tactically.”
Martinez has also defended his decision to stay loyal to under-fire keeper Tim Howard who has made several errors since being recalled at the expense of understudy Joel Robles whose stint in the side ended with three consecutive clean sheets.
He said: “At that time, Joel as a number two did a magnificent job and he kept the clean sheets, and especially against Crystal Palace and Liverpool were outstanding. He did his job.
“His position at the club has been reinforced. Now he is competing stronger for that No1 shirt. Joel is 24, and Tim is 36.
“Joel has shown he is ready to step into number one but Tim’s had a very strong season, he’s very experienced, and with a very important responsibility in the dressing-room. You give someone [Howard] a starting point, and the number two needs to fight to overcome that. The good thing is we have a number one and number two who are both reliable.”