The blow came just 72 hours after their FA Cup triumph and made them the first club in English football to lift the trophy and lose their top-flight status in the same season.
“I never thought for a second that would happen. I knew we had to win our last two games but was very, very confident that this team would be able to do that,” said the Spaniard.
Martinez denied the cup run had been a distraction.
“The FA Cup is completely different,” he added. “It really helped us have confidence to be successful in league. It’s an achievement we will never lose, it’s just a shame it happened in the same season as we lose our Premier League status.”
■ Chelsea are effectively guaranteed a top-four spot as their goal difference means they cannot be caught by Tottenham. Arsenal could catch the Blues if they beat Newcastle on Sunday and Chelsea fail to win at home to Everton.
■ Arsene Wenger’s men will be sure of at least fourth place with victory at St James’ Park, but a draw or loss would open the door for Spurs should they beat Sunderland at White Hart Lane.
■ If Chelsea draw with Everton and Arsenal beat Newcastle by one goal, but score two more than Chelsea, then the London rivals will finish level on points, goal difference, and goals scored. They would, therefore, face a play-off to decide who finishes third.