Jan 082015

Roberto Martinez insists he is more than happy for Everton FC to play direct football – but is adamant they will never become long ball merchants.

Martinez’s beliefs in a possession-based style have come under-fire in recent weeks as the Blues went on a torrid four match losing streak.

Everton stopped the rot on Tuesday night with a draw in the FA Cup against West Ham United – and striker Romelu Lukaku has revealed he asked the manager if they could adopt a more direct approach.

Goodison Park in the 3rd round of the FA Cup”> Goodison Park in the 3rd round of the FA Cup”>VIEW GALLERY  

The Blues ended up creating the most chances they have in a game since March with Lukaku grabbing the late equaliser to force a replay next week at Upton Park.

Martinez says talking tactics with his players is standard practice and was not a “one-off meeting” that many had assumed.

And the Catalan insists he has always been more than happy for the Blues to vary their play.

“You need to take advantage of what is happening on the pitch,” Martinez told the ECHO. “A lot of teams now press us high up because they want to stop us from playing so there is nothing wrong with a long pass.

“But I would never accept a percentage long ball.

“But another thing is using the quality to find a long pass and using what the opposition give you.

“That shows you flexibility that you can hit the opposition in more ways but we will never be set in a direct manner just to become a percentage team that relies on the drop of the ball to be successful.”

He added: “Too much work is involved behind the scenes for that and the style we want at Everton is very clear. It goes down to the roots of our football club and we need to master it. We need to be fantastic at it in order to become a winning team.

“Within that style you have opportunities for long passes, opportunities to use the space and opportunities to beat the lines of pressure and that is something we did really well last season.”

Everton not only played with more variation than in recent weeks but with a greater tempo against the Hammers.

A reinvigorated Lukaku spoke of his satisfaction that Everton “mixed it up” on Tuesday night and Martinez says the 21-year-old has all the attributes to allow the Blues to do that.

Everton’s Romelu Lukaku celebrates grabbing the equaliser to earn a replay for the Toffees during the third round of the FA Cup against West Ham United at Goodison Park. Photo by James Maloney  

The towering Belgium international told the ECHO recently that he does not consider himself a ‘targetman’ but was working on his hold-up play.

And Martinez believes Lukaku has the potential to become the best striker in world football.

“It has always been a natural process with Rom at Everton,” the manager said.

“He came on loan and did really well and felt at home and we felt he was the perfect player to play in that famous number nine position and from that point on we all need to be patient a little bit. The character and desire is there. I saw a real freshness and focus in Rom on Tuesday and it is important he carries that on for the second half of the campaign.

“We all know the potential of Rom is to be one of the best, if not the best, striker in world football and we all need to support each other and have a consistent run of performances on the pitch. As a player you are always going to be using your attributes and Rom is a modern number nine.

“He can combine, build-up play and then penetrate in behind defender with his pace. But with his body he has, he can use that to his advantage.”

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