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

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker