Apr 242014

Having nothing to play for doesn’t exist in this league, says Blues boss

Roberto Martinez insists Southampton won’t lack any motivation on Saturday – despite being unable to finish in the top six.

Mauricio Pochettino’s impressive outfit can climb no higher than seventh in the course of their final three remaining games, and currently sit in eighth place in the Premier League table, three points ahead of Newcastle.

By contrast Everton go into the Saturday lunchtime show-down at St Mary’s requiring a victory to maintain their pursuit of a top four finish, but their manager does not believe they will face a team that wants three points any less than them.

“In this league, those arguments are out of the question,” said the Blues boss. “Everyone knows that finishing one place above is a very important way of finishing a season.

“You don’t get a situation where you don’t have anything to play for. You have players fighting for individual situations, contracts and futures.

“And as a team if they can finish above Newcastle then that is a remarkable season so you learn very quickly in this league that having nothing to play for doesn’t exist for any team.

“So we go to Southampton, who might have that relaxed mentality, which will help them perform well. We don’t expect anything but a strong performance from the home side and we need to be as focused as we can and adapt as well as we’ve done away from home in the last three games.”

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Newcastle United v Everton FC at St. James’ Park. Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda

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Like many throughout the game, Martinez has been impressed with the Saints’ progress under their bright young Argentine manager this term.

And he sees similarities with how the South Coast club and Everton prioritise youth.

“What I like about Southampton is their brave approach in giving young players an opportunity,” he said.

“That comes from the young players being ready and prepared and that comes through the good standards in their academy.

“We have good standards in our Academy and in our development of the young players.

“Southampton play with a real bravery and high energy performances with a real focus on attacking teams and scoring goals. They are a very, very good side and for me they have got the right principles.”

Southampton’s precocious trio of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse have helped the Saints play some entertaining football during this campaign, and Martinez believes his own home-grown youngsters, such as Ross Barkley, John Stones, and Gerard Deulofeu, have also shown maturity beyond their years.

“We need to be able to compete on a matchday against any side that is trying to win the title and any side that is trying to get in the Champions League,” he said.

“From that point on, the young players have developed quicker than we expected.

“The performances on the pitch, in terms of the results, we set out a vision and tried to do that from the beginning.

“But there has always been a feeling around this club that we have the right balance of experience and know-how and that youth, brave talent with a lot of energy to enable us to finish the season strongly.

“So all the elements were there for us to see a competitive Everton side and I’m only pleased that at this stage of the season we have an amount of points that is allowing us to fight for a Champions League spot, which is in itself an incredible achievement by the players in such a short period of time.”

Chance to play Blues’ home

The ECHO have teamed up with Barclays to offer 11-a-side adult amateur football teams the chance to play at Goodison Park.

The winter wash-out played havoc with amateur fixtures this season with unplayable pitches causing backlogs that have seen some teams not able to kick a ball for months, and as part of their campaign to say thank you to the fans, community heroes, players and managers Barclays has launched the Barclays Thank you Days experience and is looking for deserving teams to go head-to-head on some of the most famous pitches in the football world, including the home of Everton on Thursday, May 8.

For the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime experience, amateur teams need to visit www.facebook.com/BarclaysFootball to tell Barclays why they deserve this unique opportunity for their team.

Did most of the league fixtures get cancelled? Was the team required to travel miles to find a useable pitch? Or does the team simply go above and beyond to help make football work in the local community?

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/barclaysfootball and join the conversation to thank community heroes with #YouAreFootball

More Everton FC news:

Naismith being hailed as Everton’s ‘find of the season’

Martinez eyeing Cleverley as midfield replacement for Osman

David Prentice on Moyes: Grass not always greener outside Goodison Park

Seamus Coleman nominated for FTBpro Fans Player of the Month award for April

In numbers: Seamus Coleman

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