Everton manager Roberto Martinez will wait until 'final third of the season' to assess Champions League target

The Toffees are among those in contention to finish in the top four

Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes it is too early to determine if his guarantee of bringing Champions League football to Goodison Park can come to fruition this season.

It was back in June at Martinez's unveiling when Toffees chairman Bill Kenwright revealed how the interviewee had won him over with a bold proclamation to elevate the club into Europe's premier cup competition.

That was a feat Martinez's predecessor David Moyes managed just once, in 2005, and a controversial two-legged defeat to Villarreal during the the qualifying stages remains the only Champions League experience Everton fans have sampled.

But, with the landmark of 20 Barclays Premier League fixtures already completed, the Toffees lie just one point and one place outside of the much-coveted top four and supporters are beginning to dream of Martinez's promise becoming a reality in just his first season.

There is no specific target in mind for the manager himself, though, at least not at this stage.

"You always wait until the final third of the season to set the final aim," he said.

"We started well and I feel we have a really good squad of players with terrific talent and a great mentality and we had a good start. But, to talk about aims in the league, you need to wait until you get in to the final nine, 10 games then, depending on the points tally, you can dream of one aim or another.

"We're in a good place but all we need to do now over the next nine (home) games is to get as many points as we can and that will give us the opportunity to fight for one aim or another.

"So far, the football that we've played and the way we've shown the strength in our squad allows you to feel confident every time you go on the pitch, to feel that you can be yourself whoever you got up against. Those two aspects are the most important ones to show in a 10-month competition. I'm really pleased with that."

That strength in the squad has been increasingly evident ever since central-defensive partners Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin succumbed to hamstring injuries.

The onus then fell on experienced Paraguay international Antolin Alcaraz and teenage defender John Stones to fill the voids and while the former is no stranger to Martinez from their time together at Wigan, it is the latter, an ex-Barnsley trainee, who has delighted his boss with his swift progression.

"John impressed so much in pre-season that I saw he was always ready to help the team," Martinez said of the blossoming talent.

"He's a young man in age but I think he's ready in terms of the levels that are needed. John has been involved in many games now and, if you look at the games he's been involved in in the Premier League, he's had many diverse experiences playing in different positions and his role is growing.

"The way that he performed against Stoke and against QPR, that only helps his case and he's one of the players that is fighting to earn his starting spot; that's where he is. Believe me, he has an incredible future."

Stones and Alcaraz look set to be in tandem again at home to Norwich on Saturday with Jagielka and Distin's return pencilled in for the trip to West Brom on the following Monday.

Few teams boast a better home record than Everton this season but the Canaries will arrive on Merseyside buoyed by the fact they have not lost against them in the five fixtures since their top-flight status was restored.

"You need to highlight that they've got incredible character," Martinez, who may be without Ross Barkley due to a toe injury, added.

"This season they've had to go through real highs and real lows but they always manage to get ready for the next game and be competitive.

"They've got really good individuals that have been playing together for a long time and the additions bring something different.

"Chris Hughton has got a lot of experience and he gets his sides really well organised and difficult to break down.

"It's going to be a tough game on Saturday."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'