LONDON – Roberto Martínez has told Everton to break their "damage-limitation" mentality in the Premier League's toughest away fixtures as they prepare for tonight's reunion with David Moyes at Manchester United.
Everton have not won at Old Trafford since 1992 and that dreadful record also continued at Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool under Moyes, who did not win one of 46 away league matches against those four clubs during his 11 years as manager.
The Scot's perceived negativity in those fixtures gained substance in the summer when he admitted heading to United with Everton thinking: "You want to get out of Old Trafford alive, that was our saying."
Martínez's only league defeat as Everton manager so far was at Manchester City in October. And he believes Everton have to overcome a mental issue, rather than a technical one, to qualify for the Champions League at the expense of wealthier rivals.
"This week will have a huge bearing on our season," said the Everton manager, who follows the United game with a visit to Arsenal on Sunday.
"It would be very easy for me to play it down but we are going to go to Old Trafford and the Emirates. They are games that we are not expected to win but, clearly, if we want to achieve something special, we need to be able to break the mentality of going to the big grounds and getting some wins.
"Over the last 10 years we have not beaten Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool at their grounds and we need to address that. We need to make sure we are ourselves. We need to know how we are going to play and who we are. We are excited about going to Old Trafford."
Martínez believes Everton's players will not be burdened tonight by their record and has called on his team to show bravery against the reigning Premier League champions.
He added: "We need to be realistic. There are six clubs with six incredible budgets and we need to be different in the way we play. Unless you experiment with that on the pitch you will never be able to beat teams with bigger budgets.
"If you are going to be brave and try to win games rather than just being in a position where you want to keep a clean sheet and get through in damage-limitation situations, then you need to be flexible as a player and as a team and play in different ways in the modern game. That is the attitude we have had from the beginning. We have had one defeat in 13 [league games].
"It is the next test and the next challenge is can we go to the big places like the Old Trafford, the Emirates, Anfield and Stamford Bridge and get wins? That is not going to happen overnight. Probably on Wednesday will be the first step towards achieving that."
Moyes' transformation of Everton from serial relegation candidates to regular European competitors was reflected in the rousing send-off he received from supporters at Goodison Park following his decision to take the United job.
That relationship, however, was strained over the summer by Moyes' protracted transfer pursuit of Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines.
A joint £28m bid for the players was described as "insulting and derisory" by Everton, although it was arguably Moyes' claim that he would not have stood in the players' way had he still been Everton manager that caused the greater aggravation. – Press Association
FIXTUTRES (9:45pm unless stated)
Wednesday: Liverpool v Norwich, Man U v Everton, Southampton v Aston Villa, Swansea v Newcastle, Arsenal v Hull City, Stoke v Cardiff, Sunderland v Chelsea, West Brom v Man City 10pm, Fulham v Tottenham 10pm