Nov 292014

Retailers have been rubbing their hands together as Merseyside aisles descend into chaos over the prospect of snaffling a bargain.

Everton FC , though, have long since gained a knack of taking advantage of the reckless spending of others.

Most notably Chelsea, whose insistence on splashing out transfer window after transfer window has led to an excess of talent on their books.

Such as Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto’o.

While neither was truly given the chance to prosper at Stamford Bridge, their careers have been given a new lease of life since switching to Goodison.

Often, this season, it has been one or the other. In recent weeks, however, the situation has changed.

After Eto’o came off the bench to ease the burden on Lukaku and spark victory over West Ham United last weekend, the pair were both included in the starting line-up of the impressive Europa League showing in Wolfsburg on Thursday.


Different roles, the same impressive effect. For Martinez, Lukaku and Eto’o are his flexible friends, strikers at opposite ends of their careers who are capable of doing it all.

“Strikers are sometimes very much labelled,” he says. “You are either a goalscorer, or someone who can hold up the play, or someone who can run in behind.

“Rom is everything. We could set up a certain way of playing that would mean Rom plays in a certain way.

“Look at the game against Wolfsburg. He has the assist for the second goal and runs in from behind for the first goal. He is such a flexible footballer, you don’t get that sort of player.

“You don’t get players who can hold up play as well as he does and combine it with the ability to run behind, his power and ball control and goalscoring threat.

“Then there is the intelligence of Samuel, which means he can play in several different positions.

“He can play in different roles with different players around him.”

The form of the duo, along with fitness concerns over Steven Naismith, mean Eto’o and Lukaku are likely to remain in the starting line-up when Everton take on fellow Champions League qualification contenders Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane tomorrow afternoon.

The Blues, looking to extend their unbeaten record to nine games in all competitions, have scored in all of their away games this season.

And after a slow start to the campaign, Lukaku – now free of a niggling toe problem – has six goals including four in his last eight outings.

“The standards that Romelu sets are huge,” says the Blues boss.

“We are talking about a striker who could be the best striker in world football. Those are the standards he is setting himself.

“What he brings to the side, whether on a good day or bad day, he always brings a focal threat to our play and is always threatening.

“He already has six goals. There are other strikers around the league who would love to have that amount.

“Sometimes expectations are so huge on Rom that even a good, effective performance is considered as a bad one.

“Rom loves the game.

“He can come in and watch four, five, six games in a week. He is obsessed with it in the right way. He knows how all the teams play around Europe, he loves talking about it.

“He always has a comment on players.

“That shows you why he is ahead of his years. He is only 22. He has been through many, many experiences already.”

Such an obsession mirrors the hunger of Eto’o who, at 33 and with three Champions League winners’ medals, has shown no sign of losing his appetite.

“I don’t think it’s rare to have that hunger when you have a love for the game,” says Martinez. “It can be difficult when you keep pushing yourself to achieve things every season.

“Samuel has always pushed himself to be the best. But he is totally in love with the game, and is a winner.

“In training he wants to participate in every game and exercise, and always wants to win. That combination will allow him to be that hungry until his legs go, it’s as simple as that.

“With other players, they win many big things then they find it difficult to find the motivation to carry on playing because they aren’t really in love with the game. But Samuel is from that very specific breed that are.”

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND – Sunday, November 9, 2014: Everton’s Darron Gibson, Samuel Eto’o and Romelu Lukaku look dejected as Sunderland score the opening goal during the Premier League match at the Stadium of Light. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Eto’o will be 35 when his contract with Everton expires in 18 months.

And Martinez adds: “It’s difficult to tell how much longer Samuel can go on because he is such an intelligent player, he can adjust the way he plays.

“A player relies on his physical attributes. You look at Ryan Giggs, he was electric who relied on his pace then the older he got he became more of a thinker and playmaker and played in a deeper role.

“Samuel has the same attributes. He doesn’t rely so much on the physicality he used to as a younger player.

“At the moment he hasn’t shown any signs he is ready to end his playing career.”

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