(Reuters) - Everton manager Roberto Martinez side-stepped questions over travelling fans’ critical chants about former boss David Moyes and instead praised them for their support ahead of another tough away game at Premier League leaders Arsenal on Sunday.
The fans were in full flow at Old Trafford on Wednesday, loudly barracking David Moyes as the high-flying Toffees dealt his champions Manchester United a stinging 1-0 defeat.
British media on Friday reported an alleged conversation between Moyes and an Everton fan after the match in which the former Goodison Park idol branded the away supporters’ reaction to him ‘a disgrace’ - a claim Moyes has denied.
Asked whether he was disappointed to hear chants against his predecessor, who spent 11 years at Everton before replacing Alex Ferguson at United this season, Martinez merely said he felt “privileged and honored to have the away fans that we have.
“When we go away from home, you’ve got the away stand making you feel that you are playing at home. And that’s the only thing that matters to me,” the Spaniard told reporters ahead of the trip to the Emirates.
“We are delighted that our away fans are terrific, they are a big part of what we want to do.”
Moyes was given a guard of honor when he left Everton, where he kept the club punching well above their limited budget, but angered fans when he said he would have let key players Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines go to United if Ferguson had come asking.
Moyes has had a hard debut season at United, who are now ninth and 12 points adrift of Arsenal, and he was terse with reporters when asked whether he had been stung by Wednesday night.
“The Everton supporters gave their team a great support and great backing,” said the Scot, whose side host in-form Newcastle United on Saturday.
Everton had not won for 21 years at United, with Wednesday’s success prompting jokes that Moyes had finally seen them triumph at Old Trafford.
The club, fifth and level on points with fourth-placed Liverpool after losing just once all season, last tasted victory at Arsenal in 1996 but Martinez said confidence was high.
“What I always focus on is trying to be as strong as we can this season and that means not to lose anything that we had good in the dressing room and then try to bring a real extra competition for places,” said the Spaniard.
“I do think that now every player needs to focus on their own performance and give everything they have for the good of the team knowing that there are other players that are ready to take those positions. That’s given us a real good focus.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Mitch Phillips