Belfast Telegraph

Everton boss Roberto Martinez wary of Black Cats threat

Everton boss Roberto Martinez has reached this stage of the season embroiled in a relegation battle in each of the last four years, but he insists the fact his focus has now flipped to the other end of the table makes no difference.

In three of the past four years, the Spaniard was successful in his attempts to stave off relegation with Wigan but having moved to Goodison Park, Martinez has guided the club to the brink of Champions League qualification and just a point at Sunderland today would move them ahead of Arsenal into fourth place.

But the Toffees manager believes fighting for a place in the Barclays Premier League's top four is no different from a relegation battle as the requirements are essentially identical.

"I think it is exactly the same, if I am completely honest," he said. "It is being able to focus on the game itself, understanding the intensity and the focus you need in every action.

"In every season, whatever you are playing for, it comes down to the final points you are playing for."

It is Martinez's experience of previous relegation battles which makes him wary of the threat Sunderland may pose.

The Black Cats may be bottom of the table – seven points from safety with two matches in hand having taken just one point from their last seven games – but they cannot be underestimated precisely because of the position they are in.

"You get through the hurt of seeing you could lose your place in the division – that is difficult, but then you accept that you have an opportunity to achieve your aim of staying up and that is a significant moment.

"I've seen it first hand. You can use those emotions in the right way and use them to your advantage.

Belfast Telegraph

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