Nov 052014

Roberto Martinez insists Everton FC must embrace the demands of European competition if they are to fulfil their potential.

The Blues are back in the Europa League after a five year absence and Martinez’s long-term plan is to elevate the club into a Champions League regular.

But the Everton manager says they must first learn to cope with the burden of playing in Europe’s second tier club competition before they can dream of mixing it with the continent’s elite.

Everton's Steven Pienaar and Christian Atsu during training VIEW GALLERY  

Lille are the visitors to Goodison on Thursday night for matchday four in the Blues’ Group H campaign and victory will cement Everton’s place as leaders – and edge them closer to qualifying into the knockout stages.

“In terms of our aspiration, absolutely,” Martinez said, when asked about the importance of regularly qualifying for Europe.

“Our work last season was to make sure that we were busy this season with the amount of games because we want to be in Europe and we want the expectations that we have to win games.

“We are starting to get into a position where we are strong as a team and are looking at every game as an opportunity to win.

“You have to be a strong football club to cope with those demands.

“When you are consistently in Europe you are a team that can make better football decisions.

“You have certain targets that allow you to develop as a football club and staying in Europe is what we need at Everton.

“To reach our goals you need challenges to push you and Europe is what we need.”

Martinez believes there has been a shift in outlook at Goodison over the last season and agrees that the Blues can no longer be considered a ‘selling club’.

“It has changed,” the Catalan said.

“Financially we are on a very strong footing.

“I’ve always said that in football it’s not about how much money you have but how little money you need to run the football club.

“When I say that, I mean we don’t need to sell players to get the club close in every season and that is a big strength.

“Now we are in a strong financial position it means any decision that is made about players is a football decision.

“That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to sell or buy players, it means the decision will be based on football and not finances and that is a real strength to have.

“We have such a talented Academy and we can produce our own talent through the first team. We are not a club that needs to sell to survive and that’s a big strength.”

Everton FC training at Finch Farm,ahead of their UEFA Europa League game against OSC Lille at Goodison Park. Roberto Martinez oversees training. Everton FC training at Finch Farm,ahead of their UEFA Europa League game against OSC Lille at Goodison Park. Roberto Martinez oversees training.  

Martinez is having to learn on the job in Europe as he embarks on his first ever season as a manager in continental competition.

And the 41-year-old has quickly learnt about the scope of tactical approaches in Europe but has been delighted by the way his players have coped.

“The biggest difference is the approach from a tactical point of view,” Martinez said.

“The game is played in a different way abroad and when you face French sides or Russian sides it’s completely different.

“You get a good bit of variety. But we try to prepare for games from our point of view and I think it’s how we’ve adapted towards that, I think we’ve done well in that so far.”

Everton are a point clear of Wolfsburg in the Group H standings after three games.

The Blues dispatched the German side 4-1 on matchday one at Goodison before draws in Krasnodar and Lille and Martinez is hoping home advantage can strike again with the French side in town.

“We really enjoyed our last game at Goodison against Wolfsburg,” the manager added.

“The two away games have been phenomenal experiences but the idea of playing at Goodison under the floodlights and facing French opposition for the first time in our history is really exciting.

“In the last two home games in the Premier League we had sell-out crowds, so you can imagine there is a real buzz around Goodison when we play our football.

“We really look forward to our home games, especially now we know the group inside out. We are looking to make our home an advantage.”

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