Roberto Martinez has challenged Everton to ensure European football becomes an annual affair at Goodison Park.
The Blues boss is preparing to lead the club into their first continental game in almost five years tonight, as they host 2009 Bundesliga Champions Wolfsburg.
And Martinez is adamant that such nights should become the norm and warned that only by adapting to the demands of regular European football can the Toffees grow.
He said: “If we change the mentality and we are desperate to play in Europe consistently then that is when we move forward. With the experienced players we have in the squad I think we are ready to embrace that.
“It is a challenge not to let our league position drop due to new competition and the demands of European football but it is our goal to be in Europe season after season.
“The mentality is key. When you are a team that has to cope with European demands all of a sudden, it becomes a chore and you can’t really cope.”
Everton FC training at their training ground Finch Farm, Halewoood ahead oftheir Europa League match against Wolfsburg.Pictured Manager Roberto Martinez
Martinez believes the growing signs of the club progressing their vision of moving to a new stadium provides an added indication of their long-term ambitions.
“Our fans know we are not going to stand still,” he said.
“That applies to the stadium. We are trying to be successful today but having a clear target of where we want to get to. We want to be a football club that replicates the glories in the past.
“That doesn’t just happen on the pitch there are a lot of aspects which need to come together.
“On the pitch and the mentality you develop means we want to put the demand of being in Europe every season – that is a goal.
“It is not easy because there are another eight or nine teams in the Premier League who have the same mentality and are spending money to achieve that.
“The competition is there for that, but we want to get back to how it was in the 60s and 80s here in the years ahead.”
Martinez stressed all summer that he was intent on building a squad capable of coping with the demands of Europe and the domestic league and cups.
And he explained how it is impossible to expect to progress if he cannot maintain healthy squad numbers in the coming campaigns.
The Toffees boss, who is expected to field a strong line-up tonight, said: “Everything starts with the squad. If you have 18-19 players then I can guarantee that in the Europa League that is too many games to be able to reach a level of performance that allows you to do well in the league as well.
“When you find European competition almost by accident then it can lead to a lack of planning.
“Now we have 25 players and in the last 16 months we have a pool of six young players who can at any time help the first team. The squad is ready and that is what we want.
“We want to face the domestic competitions with a real desire to do well and then Europe and the Premier League should go hand in hand.
“They are competitions that help the level of the team not make it harder.”
Martinez pressed pause on his ambition to manage in Europe when he left FA Cup winners Wigan for Everton last summer, and although he is thrilled to have revived that dream he insists tonight is not about him.
“I have never been like that,” he said, dismissing talk of personal career milestones. “I get satisfaction from how good we can be as a team and part of that process is how good we can be in Europe. We need Europe for us to be as good as we can be. The potential in the squad is incredible.
“I get satisfaction from the team developing and becoming phenomenal in something. The next step is to be facing European sides and that is what we need to progress.”
Martinez has players with plenty of European experience at his disposal, with Samuel Eto’o having racked up 109 appearances on the continent during his career so far.
But the Catalan explained that he does not feel compelled to favour his veteran campaigners in the group stages.
He added: “Maybe in a knockout game experience comes into play, knowing what to expect in certain environments, but we are in a group stage and we want to be as good as we can be. The next six games in Europe will depend on the form at the time.
“Someone like Phil Jagielka is in a different stage of his career but for a youngster you just go flat out all the time and you cannot do that in Europe and that is part of the development.
“International football helps, but as a team to be able to go to the next level and that would be to get five more points than last season then it is facing opposition who make you think and make you play in a different manner.
“If we can push our level of performance as a team that will excite me.”
– Geoff O’Keefe
Scottish readers: Undecided about the referendum? Please read How the media shafted the people of Scotland and Scottish Independence, Power And Propaganda.
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