Everton vs Man Utd: FA Cup clash between dead men walking
Louis van Gaal and Roberto Martinez both know their jobs are at stake ahead of Wembley showdown
For managers Louis van Gaal and Roberto Martinez, there is more at stake than a place in the FA Cup final when their teams meet at Wembley on Saturday.
Whoever loses the semi-final will not only see their hopes of silverware vanish for the season, they are also likely to lose their job at the end of the season. It could be billed as a clash between dead men walking.
Manchester United are rumoured to have lined up Jose Mourinho to replace Van Gaal after a topsy-turvy campaign that has been punctuated by some dire performances.
Everton have fared even worse under Martinez. Early season optimism generated by the form of Romelu Lukaku has evaporated and the side reached rock-bottom with a 4-0 humbling at the hands of local rivals Liverpool on Wednesday.
And it is Martinez who is in the most immediate danger after being blamed for naivety in selection and tactics ahead of the game.
"For the first time in a while, [Van Gaal] will not be the manager under most scrutiny before, during and possibly after a Manchester United match," says The Guardian. "Everton's dreadful humiliation at Anfield has left Roberto Martinez needing the Cup to save his job, just like Howard Kendall all those years ago. Never mind the romance of the Cup: Martinez needs the kiss of life."
The manager, who was relegated and won the FA Cup in his final season at Wigan, "is fighting for his Everton career amid increasing calls from supporters for him to be sacked", says Chris Bascombe in the Daily Telegraph. "Wembley success is now the clearest path to salvation not only for the club's season, but Martinez's position."
But even that cannot mask a poor league campaign and the club's new owners "must decide if the manager can impose his long-term vision, especially as significant transfer funds are sure to be available in the summer".
Things are not much better for Van Gaal. He "probably won't keep his job even if he wins the FA Cup and finishes fourth [in the league]", says the Guardian.
But United are the favourites for Wembley. With Marcus Rashford retaining his place up front and Wayne Rooney now playing in midfield, they should have the beating of shell-shocked Toffees.
Everton are "a good team that is nowhere", says Sky Sports's Paul Merson. "United will win at Wembley, I can't see Everton stopping them."
Mark Lawrenson of the BBC agrees and notes that United appeared to be coming into form against Crystal Palace at the weekend.