Everton dismiss Martinez
Roberto Martinez was fired by Everton yesterday with three years left on his contract after failing to get the best out of what is widely regarded as the club's strongest squad in years.
It is the first major call by Everton since billionaire Farhad Moshiri bought a stake in the English Premier League club in February to become its majority shareholder.
Disgruntled fans had started to make their feelings known towards an increasingly downbeat Martinez, with the team winning only one of their last 10 games in all competitions. A 3-0 loss to Sunderland on Wednesday left Everton in 12th place in the Premier League with one game remaining, at home to Norwich on Sunday.
By firing him after three years in charge, Everton's board has ensured that the 42-year-old Spaniard will be spared further abuse at Goodison Park this weekend. Protests had been planned.
Everton said in a short statement that Martinez has been a "great ambassador for the club, conducting himself, at all times, with the utmost integrity and dignity" and pointed to his role in developing youngsters into the first team and on to the international stage.
That was likely a reference to players such as Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and John Stones, who are among the most highly rated youngsters in the Premier League, but whose form has dipped dramatically - just like Everton's - since March.
Everton reached the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and League Cup this season, losing both, but it is the team's league form that has most disappointed. Everton have won 22 of 75 league games in the last two years under Martinez, with the defensive concerns that plagued his four years at Wigan carrying over to his time on Merseyside.
Only the bottom five teams in the league have conceded more than Everton's 55 goals this season, and the 4-0 loss to neighbours Liverpool in the derby last month was a particular low point. The team was also prone to dropping points through conceding late goals.
Former Netherlands defender Frank de Boer, who announced yesterday that he will be leaving Ajax after deciding not to extend his contract at the Dutch club, has been linked with the Everton manager's job.
Moshiri, an Iranian-British businessman, bought a 49.9 per cent stake in Everton after recently selling shares in Premier League rivals Arsenal to Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov.
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has established a reputation as being loyal to his managers, but the arrival of Moshiri appears to have ushered in a tougher approach.
The club's end-of-season awards night,, which was scheduled for last night, was cancelled in the wake of Martinez's departure.