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Martinez accepts Everton are in a relegation battle

But don't expect him to change tactics...

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The fans have known it for a while, the media picked up on it last week, and now finally Roberto Martinez concedes Everton are in a relegation battle.

The club's slow, painful slide down the league has been masked by their Europa League adventure and an almost blind faith that the corner will be turned at some stage.

Wednesday's miserable at Stoke, however, that leaves Everton with their lowest ever Premier League points tally at this stage of the season, seems to have awoken Martinez to the realisation that his side have a fight on their hands to stay up.

That realisation hopefully should focus minds while the eight-day break until the Dynamo Kiev game should also help to refresh legs wearily trudged around the Britannia Stadium.

The one bright side to Everton's predicament is the fact Martinez has extensive experience from his Wigan days. The Spaniard successfully kept the Latics in the Premier League for three successive seasons.

The down side? Martinez failed in his survival quest in 2013, though he did win the FA Cup. Hmmm, a cup run masking poor league form, sound familiar?

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, 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 every season.

"Yes, yes, but I've been down with 36 points and it's very tough to get 36 points in this league.

"It was very painful because it was on the back of winning the FA Cup. The FA Cup final got in the middle of achieving that and we paid the price."

Depsite the looming threat of the drop Martinez will not change his footballing principles in Everton's remaining matches this season, stating:

"Winning is very, very important but you can chase that dream with good football, not just ‘finding a way’ to win."

That statement makes me more than a little concerned. However, there is no time for recriminations now, with vital league games against Newcastle and QPR coming up the club has to be united in order to pick up some points.

Four - or hopefully - six points from those two games will ease the pressure significantly, and the fans can play their part by getting behind the team and roaring over the line.

Then, with safety assured, we can start assessing what has gone wrong during this campaign that promised so much but has delivered so little.

Martinez added:

"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."