Everton seems to be a team that does not want to give up its goal of qualifying for Europe. With a 3-0 win over Newcastle United at St. James Park on Tuesday and a 3-1 away win against Fulham on Sunday, Everton has leaped over Tottenham into 5th place. And now Everton will be relishing this Sunday’s game against Arsenal where a win would put the Toffees one point behind the Gunners, with the Toffees having one game in hand over Arsenal.
One advantage that manager Roberto Martinez has in his goal to help the team qualify for Europe is his lucky run of games in the last two months of the season. The Spaniard showed his luck year after year with Wigan Athletic keeping them in the Premier League in prior seasons. Now Martinez is at the other end of the table fighting for a spot that would be massive boost for his new club. With Everton’s winning display on Sunday showing their never-say-die attitude against a Fulham team that was better than them in the first half, Martinez was very happy with the Toffees’ response in the second half, stating, “We never gave up and kept an important clean sheet in the first half and that allowed us to regroup. We then saw a performance full of guts and determination and a never-say-die attitude, which is needed as the platform in any winning team.”
Some said that the Spaniard did not have the experience to take a mid-table team to the next level. Especially, since Martinez was not able to keep his previous team, Wigan Athletic, up in the Premier League last season, being relegated to the Championship. Some people even thought Martinez was even a bit ambitious when he stated he would take Everton into Europe. However, one man that did believe in the young manager was Bill Kenwright, Everton’s chairman. It did not take long for the chairman to make his decision to hire Martinez as the next Everton manager. Now with the Premier League winding down, Everton is still chasing that final spot for either the Europa League or the Champions League.
Roberto Martinez is not the only one surprising people around the league. Under his management, players such as Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu, James McCarthy and John Stones have all taken full advantage of the opportunities they have been given this season. These players are very young, but full of confidence that they can compete with the big boys of the Premier League. This confidence comes from their manager and the senior players on the squad. With the likes of Leighton Baines, Gareth Barry, Sylvain Distin, Leon Osman and Tim Howard helping the younger players, Roberto Martinez seems to have found a right balance within the team.
If Everton does manage to qualify for Europe next season, there will be more games to be played and Martinez will need to look into signing more players over the summer transfer window. This season, Everton has been hit with injuries to key players, with the current squad not having a lot of depth on their bench.
Signing new players is one of the toughest jobs a football manager has to focus on. He not only needs to sign the right player but he also needs to work on the financial side of the transfers. Everton is not known for having millions to spend on players the way Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Tottenham do. These six teams are the ones that consistently fight for a European spot. Their sponsorship deals vary from £12-30 million a year. Everton has recently announced an extension with Chang, a Thai brewing company, as their sponsor. The new deal could be worth around £16 million over the next three years. This is a massive difference between Everton and the other top teams. However, Martinez does not let the numbers in the sponsorship deal discourage him.
The Spaniard has overall done a fantastic job in signing players either on a permanent basis or as a loan. There is the Lacina Traore transfer that occurred in the January window that did not work out too well, with the player suffering an injury and has only being featured in one FA Cup match. Not every deal is certain and an injury can occur to any player. Most of the signings, however, have all produced thus far. Gareth Barry seemed to rejuvenate his career, in the midfield, with a move away from Manchester City. Deulofeu and McCarthy have both been players who can change a game with each scoring a game-winning goal. Roberto Martinez is renowned for his long hours reviewing and studying players. Some people may think that only looking at the soccer player’s statistics can tell a manager if this player is worth signing. The Toffees’ manager takes it a step forward explaining that the player not only needs good statistics but also a good attitude both on and off the field.
One thing is for sure, Everton seem to have a new attitude under Martinez with everyone at the club believing they can qualify for Europe either this season or in the near future. Many fans have backed the new Toffees’ manager from the start with his positive attitude, changed philosophy and different style of play at the club, making it entertaining and exciting for the fans and everyone around the league. Could this be the year that Everton add more success to their rich history? The manager, his staff, players, the chairman, and the fans all think so.