Roberto Martinez is hoping to create some ‘big memories’ for Everton FC and believes that Europa League success can do that for the Blues.
Come next May it will be 20 years since the Goodison Park trophy cabinet was last opened for major silverware when Joe Royle’s side won the FA Cup by shocking Manchester United.
As someone who knows all about creating such memorable moments having guided Wigan Athletic to a surprise success against United’s neighbours City in 2013, Martinez acknowledges it’s time for some new chapters to be written in Everton’s history.
He said: “I’ve always thought that as a football club and as a group of players you need to fight to create big memories.
“It’s important that we look forward to winning something. The players deserve that and the fans deserve that.
“Everyone who is connected with Everton, we are so rich in our history we should start thinking about working hard every day to try and get a trophy.
“Not as an obsession or a matter of urgency but as an aspiration.
“There are different words you can use like legacy and memories but when you saw our fans at Lille that will be a very special memory for all of us forever.”
With no trophies since 1995, almost a whole generation of Evertonians have grown up with no cup to cheer.
Everton’s Paul Rideout (left) and Graham Stuart with the FA Cup in 1995
The longest the club has ever gone without winning silverware is 24 years between 1939-1963 but seven years of league action were lost during this period due to the Second World War.
For almost a century, 24 years was also the longest the Blues had gone without being crowned champions with their successes twice curiously following a pattern of a 24-year wait followed by four titles in the next 24 years (champions in 1891, a wait until 1915 followed by titles in 1928, 1932 and 1939 then a wait until 1963 followed by titles in 1970, 1985 and 1987) but their current drought of 27 years and counting has become their longest barren spell.
For the first decade of the Premier League Everton finished in the top half just once. This was improved upon under David Moyes with nine top half finishes in 11 full seasons but the Scot was ultimately unable to end the wait for a trophy.
Martinez acknowledges that ultimately you need to win things to be remembered in the game.
He said: “The only way we’ll get respect from outside of our environment is through winning titles.
“We need to embrace the idea that we’re a top club and a big football club. Slowly we’re working hard to develop a big club mentality within the squad and that’s where the excitement lies.
“We know how difficult it is. You look at the investment in the league there are a lot of clubs thinking ‘we have to win a title’.
“We’re not in that bracket but we’re a club that can aspire to win a title because we’ve won them in the past, it’s in our DNA.
Martinez added: “That’s something that is supported by our fans. I don’t think they feel a massive pressure or the weight of expectation of having to win a title that’s not the case.
“We just want to develop a way of playing that can take us to aspire to bring some great memories for our football club and that’s how we can use the fans in our favour.
“It’s very important not to get a mixed message in that respect.
“We want to be as good as we can and we know if we do that on a daily basis we’ll have a great opportunity with the support that we have to bring some great times for this football club.”
Halfway through the group stage of Everton’s first continental campaign since 2009/10 the Blues – who were in the third pot of seeds out of four for the draw – are sitting pretty at the top of the group with five points (one above second place Wolfsburg who they thrashed 4-1 in their opening game).
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Victory over Lille on Thursday would put Martinez’s men five points above the French side with six points left to play for and therefore in the box seat for a place in the knockout stages.
With Martinez making his own debut on the European stage having sacrificed a place in the Europa League with his FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic to join Everton last season, the Catalan is satisfied with his team’s progress to date.
He said: “I’m really pleased with how things have gone so far. They are good opponents and we’ve had two away games.
“We’re really looking forward to having another two home games and being able to enjoy them with our fans which is important.”
He added: “It’s fair to say they’re really tough opposition. It’s not like you’re talking about opposition who are not up to the level of European competition.
“Wolfsburg and Lille are teams who have been flirting with Champions League football and have won titles in their countries in recent years while Krasnodar are a new team arriving a little bit into a new level but I think they are going to get stronger – they beat Real Sociedad.
“They’ve been a really enjoyable fist three fixtures but we’re really looking forward to the next three because the fans will make all the difference.”
European games are helping us to fulfil potential
Everton’s Europa League campaign has been an education for their manager as well as their players.
Delighted to be testing himself on the European stage for the first time, Martinez is embracing the experience.
He said: “I’m learning a lot myself.
“The opportunity to be involved in a competition like the Europa League gives you so much information about how far we can be stretched and gives you a lot in knowing how far we can go.
“The big advantage you have as a manager is to be able to see how we react in extreme conditions and how individuals react when they’ve got a lot of travelling and preparations between games is harder.
“There are different environments like being able to perform away in Russia and France – that’s invaluable information that I could never get in any other way.
“It has very much been an ambition for me but it allows us to become wiser, stronger and fulfil our potential.”
Martinez acknowledges that the nature of the games have thrown up different challenges to the domestic fare his players have previously been used to but believes they are prepared for the task.
He said: “It’s very much different to the Premier League.
“As you can imagine, it’s a little bit less physical and more about oppositions trying to stop the amount of possession that you have.
“It has been very interesting. We got a lot of benefit from the amount of opposition that we got in pre-season. We always tried to pick teams that had a different tactical approach.
“I think it’s been very beneficial for the Europa League because over the past two pre-seasons we’ve faced all types of foreign opposition and that has really helped us in being able to cope.
“We’ve developed into a team that can be quite flexible and we can play different formations and we can adapt to different needs which has made it quite natural for us to adapt.”
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