Martinez hails Meulensteen effect

Everton boss Roberto Martinez believes Fulham made a shrewd choice when they brought new manager Rene Meulensteen to the club.

Rene Meulensteen

Martinez, whose Toffees side lie fifth in the Barclays Premier League table heading into Saturday's home clash with the Cottagers, has won plenty of admirers for his work this season but was keen to talk up his opposite number.

Meulensteen, Sir Alex Ferguson's former assistant at Manchester United, oversaw a 2-0 success over Aston Villa last weekend - ending a run of seven winless matches in all competitions - and Martinez was unsurprised to see him have a positive influence.

"They have been galvanised by Rene Meulensteen," he said.

"He is someone who has been an innovative coach. He has always made a difference in what he has done...he can bring a lot to Fulham."

Dutchman Meulensteen, who has Darren Bent back from a hamstring strain, has been pleased by his players' work ethic since taking the reins from Martin Jol.

"I have been very happy with everyone's contribution so far. The training has been excellent," he said.

"The players are applying themselves really well and I'm a strong believer that the quality you work with on training pitch will manifest in the games."

Southampton and Newcastle - perhaps surprising members of the top eight - meet at St James' Park.

Magpies boss Alan Pardew was in confident mood as he assessed the fixture, having beaten Manchester United 1-0 last weekend.

"There have been plenty of times, particularly last year, when we had so many injuries, of difficult days so it was nice to have had a really strong period in this last six weeks," he said.

"But it's important that we focus now very much on our next game. It's a difficult game for us, but one we are obviously really looking forward to on the back of last week's result."

Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino was also in a positive frame of mind having taken a point against Manchester City last time out.

"To end a run of bad results was psychologically very important for the team," said the Argentinian.

"Looking back on the City game, I think we even deserved more. We deserved to get the win from that game.

"Looking ahead to the weekend, we have trained well and we're fully focused and prepared for the game ahead."

Rock bottom Sunderland visit fellow strugglers West Ham, with manager Gus Poyet calling for better service for striker Steven Fletcher.

"He hasn't had too many chances because we are not creating too many," said Poyet.

"We are missing the last pass, cross, decision, movement. That's been missing. It's the most difficult part of any team, any game."

West Brom boss Steve Clarke wants his side to end a run of three defeats at Cardiff.

The Scot said: "Everybody understands that to lose three games in a row is painful. You obviously start going down the table because other teams around you win. We have to make sure this weekend we get back to winning ways."

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