Martinez eyes domestic improvement


Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Roberto Martinez wants Everton to use their “perfect” form in Europe to ensure they finish the Premier League season strongly.

There has been a sharp contrast between the Toffees’ domestic results and those in the Europa League, but perhaps even more so in their performances.

They have struggled to find the pace and potency that made them such an exciting prospect in Martinez’s debut season in charge last term and have scored just once in their last four league games.

But in Europe they have again looked free-flowing, and never more so than in Thursday night’s 4-1 victory over Young Boys in Switzerland.

Manager Martinez said: “I think it shows in Europe this season we’ve been perfect. And when I say perfect, we’ve been enjoying our football.

“I think we’ve produced some exciting, attacking play. We’ve been brave. I think we’ve showed an incredible character and it’s helped young players to learn a lot very quickly, and it’s helped the experienced players to show us the direction.

“It highlights that we need to take that into our domestic form. This season, because of very small margins, we haven’t been able to get a real momentum, which allows you to have a real enjoyment in the games you go into.

“That’s what we’re going to use. I do feel we’ve been very confident in our play in the last few games. Probably Thursday’s result will be the final push to really enjoy our football in every game in the league from now until the end of the season, and that’s a really important target of ours.”

The one black mark from Thursday’s game was a red card for defender John Stones, who was penalised for pulling back Guillaume Hoarau in front of goal.

Everton were 4-1 up at the time and Young Boys could not punish Stones’ error, with Hoarau missing the penalty.

Martinez refused to see the 20-year-old’s dismissal as a negative, saying: ” It has affected him, but in a positive manner. I think he’ll become a better player because of that.

“When you talk about the experiences in Europe, in big games, the young players benefit from it. Clearly John will do that. In a game where you’re going to be in a hostile environment, you need to be very clear in your decisions.

“The reaction from the team was phenomenal with 10 men and the sending off didn’t affect the scoreline. Obviously John has got a lot to thank his team-mates for, but in the same manner John has become a better player because of that.”

Pictures in The Sun showed stewards using an umbrella to shield Stones as he made his way off the pitch, with the newspaper reporting this was due to objects being hurled from the stands in his direction.

Everton declined to comment on whether they would be complaining to UEFA about the matter.

Martinez said of Stones: “He didn’t mention it. He was quite down because of the football action, nothing else.

“It was an incredible environment at the ground. I heard it was a quite hostile way that he left the pitch but I think everyone helped him through and it’s not an issue from our point of view.

“Clearly what we want is phenomenal environments to play our games. But always well controlled and healthy.”

Martinez expects to have left-back Leighton Baines available for Sunday’s clash with Leicester after three games out with a minor knee problem.

He is likely to replace Bryan Oviedo, who felt his hamstring against Young Boys, but Steven Naismith should recover from a knock.

Aaron Lennon, cup-tied in the Europa League, returns but Gareth Barry is suspended and Aiden McGeady, Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar are all set to miss out.

Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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