Cardiff – Everton manager Roberto Martinez is braced for a turbulent end to the transfer window as Manchester United consider a final bid for Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini.
Not only was Martinez left to lament the penalty that should have been in Saturday's 0-0 draw at Cardiff City, but the Spaniard also faces the possibility of losing his two most influential players before the transfer window closes on Monday evening.
Former Everton boss David Moyes, now in charge at Old Trafford, has infuriated Martinez with his public pursuit of England left-back Baines and Belgian midfielder Fellaini, but the Toffees have so far held firm despite United's bids.
There is still a chance Moyes will return with one more offer and Martinez admitted he would have preferred the window to close before the start of the season.
“As far as they (Fellaini and Baines) are concerned, they are both terrific professionals and a great example for football in general,” Martinez said.
“It's an unfair situation. Not just for us, for everyone up and down the country. There should be a transfer window, but once the competitive games start then it should stop because it is unfair for everyone.
“They are top players as you have seen today and I want to keep my top players. But when you are in the transfer window you are not in control of what is going to happen.”
There was more angst for Martinez when referee Anthony Taylor waved away claims for a first-half spot-kick, when Cardiff midfielder Gary Medel brought down Baines with a reckless challenge in the box.
Martinez, whose side failed to score for the second successive week, reckons Taylor's oversight was the most blatant error he has ever seen.
At first, Taylor appeared to have pointed to the spot. However, much to the astonishment of the Everton players and the visiting bench, the official turned his back on the incident and duly awarded a goal-kick.
“It's as clear a penalty you will ever see,” said Martinez. “The last thing I would do is come out and just blame the referee for not getting the three points, but it was a key moment.”
Cardiff, who have kicked-off their first season in the top flight for more than 50 years with four points from a possible nine, were competitive in midfield, where Medel and Aron Gunnarsson complimented the creativity of Peter Whittingham and Kim Bo-Kyung.
At the back, they were equally resolute with £8 million ($10.6m) signing Steven Caulker and fellow central defender Ben Turner both exceptional.
“I am very pleased,” said Cardiff manager Malky Mackay. “We played a top team here. We showed huge concentration levels and I'm very pleased that we have got four points after three games.
“With the penalty, I felt it would have been incredibly soft had it been given.
“We have battled hard and in the first 20 minutes of the second half we did create some opportunities and four points from three games is pretty pleasing.”
The game unfolded in much the same way as Cardiff's win against Manchester City last Sunday with Everton enjoying the lions' share of possession without ever threatening in the final third.
Kevin Mirallas did miss a clear-cut opportunity with a header from a Baines free-kick.
But until David Marshall pulled off a wonderful save in first-half stoppage time to deny Nikica Jelavic, it was all relatively straightforward for last season's Championship winners.
Substitute Arouna Kone was lively for the visitors in the closing stages, but he couldn't snatch a winner, and it was not enough to put a smile on the face of Martinez, who faces a critical 48 hours in the immediate future of Everton. – Sapa-AFP