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EYE ON EPL

Flores, Martinez deserve a new lease of EPL life

The English Premier League season started with two Spanish managers - Roberto Martinez at Everton and Quique Sanchez Flores at Watford, both of whom are now level on points in the league (41).

But it seems there is more in common between the duo than just nationality and points - for there is every chance both men will lose their jobs in the coming weeks.

That both Everton and Watford lost their respective FA Cup semi-final matches over the weekend - to Manchester United and Crystal Palace respectively - has only heaped more pressure on the tacticians.

Martinez started the season armed with one of the most talented Everton squads, including striker Romelu Lukaku and talented defender John Stones.

But the team are a shambles now - one win in their last nine matches is inexcusable for a club of Everton's stature. A 4-0 thrashing to rivals Liverpool just before the FA Cup exit hardly helped.

Results are important and when clubs are stuck in a rut, fans sometimes think a new manager will revive their fortunes. But that is not always the case - look at how Manchester United are struggling for stability after Alex Ferguson's retirement.

To be fair, Martinez was not helped by injuries to key players, like captain Phil Jagielka, who missed 14 league games.

I also thought Stones was unsettled by his links to Chelsea during the pre-season and it clearly affected his performances early on.

Which is why I think it would be harsh for chairman Bill Kenwright to sack Martinez.

Let's not forget - it was only two years ago when he guided Everton to their record points total - in his first season, no less.

At 42, he is still young and learning his craft. Having managed Swansea and Wigan, he is also familiar with English football since his managerial career began in 2007.

If big clubs come in for Stones, they should sell him and reinvest in the squad. With a new defender, a new striker to share the load with Lukaku and a settled team, I believe Martinez can do a better job next season.

It is the same with Flores - Watford could do worse than to sack the man who ensured their Premier League survival and gave them the memorable results against Liverpool (a 3-0 win) and Chelsea (a 2-2 draw).

I was initially sceptical of what he can do in the EPL but I have been proven wrong.

At the halfway mark the Hornets were seventh in the league. Sure, the team's form has suffered since, losing 10 of their last 17 league matches.

But this happens as the season goes along, when injuries and suspensions take their toll. The smaller teams suffer because they do not have a deep squad.

Put it this way - at the start of the season, if you had offered Watford's owners and fans survival in the EPL and an FA Cup semi-final finish, they'd have bitten your hand off. For a team like Watford, survival is key. Anything else is a bonus.

Flores, 51, deserves a chance to build on a season which must surely have met, or even surpassed, the club's expectations.

Yes, results are important and when clubs are stuck in a rut, fans sometimes think a new manager will revive their fortunes.

But that is not always the case - look at how Manchester United are struggling for stability after Alex Ferguson's retirement.

Furthermore, it will not be easy for a club like Watford to attract big names.

Both Flores and Martinez are good managers who are still young in the managerial sense. More importantly, they like to play attractive football, which I think is refreshing for the EPL.

With the exception of former Everton manager David Moyes, who is currently without a club, I cannot think of anyone who can do a better job than these two.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2016, with the headline 'Flores, Martinez deserve a new lease of EPL life'. Print Edition | Subscribe