Roberto Martinez has revealed his biggest regret as Everton manager, admitting he regrets how he approached his final Merseyside derby on the eve of the 2016 FA Cup semi-final.
Enduring a difficult league campaign, the Blues reached the semi-finals of both the League Cup and the FA Cup that season, losing to Manchester City in the former despite boasting a 2-1 first leg lead.
Facing Manchester United in the final four of the latter, Everton travelled to Anfield the Wednesday before their trip to Wembley only to suffer a 4-0 defeat.
Gareth Barry and Ramiro Funes Mori would miss the semi-final through injury and suspension respectively off the back of the derby defeat.
And despite sharing his pride at his side’s Wembley performance, where they lost to a last-minute Anthony Martial strike, Martinez admits he regrets how he approached that particular Merseyside Derby and believes it cost his side an FA Cup final appearance.
“The Merseyside derby is one of those games that is different,” he told Jamie Carragher when appearing on the latest episode of the Greatest Game Podcast. “It is more than a football game. Our first Merseyside Derby finished 3-3 and was a fantastic game of football. We conceded really, really late.
“At times, you don’t want the Merseyside Derby to get in the way of other targets. I remember one Merseyside Derby at Anfield (in 2016). That game was too close to the semi-final of the FA Cup.
“Our record at Anfield has been, since the Joe Royle victory with Kevin Campbell scoring the winner, the performances at Anfield have been very difficult.
“I think sometimes you should be able to prioritise in certain games and I feel that Merseyside derby wouldn’t allow us to prioritise. You have to take the Merseyside Derby as the biggest game of the season.”
He continued: “Probably for us, we were not ready as a squad to have two huge games at that point, playing midweek in the Merseyside Derby and then playing the semi-final at Wembley. The semi-final at Wembley after a really disappointing 45 minutes.
“Second half we were really strong, all the work we did from three years you could see it. We mentally had every aspect and were ready to compete in a major competition to win silverware.
“Everton deserve silverware. Everton fans deserve silverware and Everton as a club need silverware to go to the next level.
“I should have prioritised more the semi-final because the Merseyside derby was too costly in hindsight.
“We lost a couple of players. At that point it was the right decision to approach the Merseyside Derby in an important manner but it probably had to big an impact on the semi-final.
“It is very small margins. I feel in that semi-final in the second, if the team had got what it deserved it could have been a very different story.”
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