Everton boss Martinez believes the connection between the Goodison faithful and the players can drive Everton towards European football next season
[quote]The Europa League is not our aim, our aim is to get as many points as we can[/quote]
Saturday’s 3-2 win over Swansea not only kept the Blues on track for European football but also saw Everton complete an eight game winning sequence at Goodison Park for the first time since the 1985/86 season.
And Everton boss Martinez is convinced the positive relationship between the supporters and players at Goodison will play a huge part in determining the fight for European qualification.
The Swansea victory moves Everton within two points of Tottenham in fifth place and with the Blues having two games to the good, a Europa League spot is now in the Toffees own hands.
Typically for the ambitious Martinez, the Everton manager has refused to rule out a 4th place finish and Champions League qualification:
“The Europa League is not our aim, our aim is to get as many points as we can,’ he said. ‘Champions League football will be around 71 points – that is our target,” said Everton boss Martinez.
“You’re going to get surprises.
“We’re trying to get as close to those numbers as we can.
“You’re not going to be able to play fantastically well in every game, the reality is you need to find the margins to win football games and when you win without being at your best is a real sign of what we’ve got at the football club.”
On the connection between supporters and players on home soil, the Spaniard is sure the Goodison crowd can inspire Everton to break their total Premier League points record.
The Goodison Effect
And with the Blues yet to welcome Champions League chasing rivals Arsenal and Manchester City to Goodison Park, as well as a game of huge significance against Manchester United and ex-boss David Moyes, Martinez wants the Toffees faithful to push his team all the way to the very last kick of the season.
“We’ve got the game in hand against Crystal Palace, and that becomes even more focal now, and then the other three games – phenomenal, glamorous games against Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal – so you can imagine that the Goodison effect is going to be vital to see how well we can finish the season.”
“I think there’s a real connection between the Goodison crowd and the players, and I think that’s shown since the Sunderland defeat,” added Martinez.
“Any game that you’re expected to win is not going to be easy. This league is the best in the world because there are no easy games and every opposition will bring something different.
“The reality is that to be able to win games consistently is what allows you to achieve at the end of the season. Sometimes it will be down to brilliance, good football and at times it will be down to a bit of a character and being efficient with your work.
“We’ve showed that we can do both, which is a remarkable achievement when you see players at 19 like John Stones, and Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku, at 20, is a real good balance that we’ve got in the side. That’s what excites me about the next nine games.”
While Martinez is urging both his players and supporters to believe they remain in the race for Champions League qualification, the Everton boss was clear on how securing Europa League football for the Blues for the first time since 2009/10, would give the club, and in particular the younger players in the squad, a unique opportunity to develop and reach for new heights.
“The preparation in pre-season has to be completely different and you need to work with bigger numbers. If you look at the younger players in the squad the benefits will be unique.
“Yes it’s a strain and a real test but that’s what you want as a football club” he said.
“You want to develop and get new highs and you get that by getting into Europe.
If we can get there we would welcome that opportunity with open arms.”
The 3-2 victory was Everton’s third win over Swansea this season, however Martinez always believed the game against his former club would be a very difficult challenge. With the Blues at times struggling to get to grips with Gary Monk’s team, the Everton boss was pleased with his players courage and application which eventually led to Everton claiming all three points.
“Any game that you are expected to win is not going to be easy.
“This league is the best in the world because there are no easy games and every opposition brings something different.
“Sometimes it’s down to brilliance and good football but other times it has to be a bit of character and being efficient in your work. We’ve shown that we can do both.”