Everton push for Champions League will not change mentality of Roberto Martinez

The Spaniard is more used to fighting relegation battles at this stage of the season

Everton boss Roberto Martinez has reached this stage of the season embroiled in a relegation battle in each of the last four years, but he insists the fact his focus has now flipped to the other end of the table makes no difference.

In three of the past four years, the Spaniard was successful in his attempts to stave off relegation with Wigan - famously winning seven of their final nine games in 2011/12 - but could not manage it last May as the FA Cup-winning exploits took their toll.

Having moved to Goodison Park in the summer, Martinez has guided the club to the brink of Champions League qualification and just a point at Sunderland on Saturday would move them ahead of Arsenal into fourth place.

But the Toffees manager believes fighting for a place in the Barclays Premier League's top four is no different from a relegation battle as the requirements are essentially identical.

"I think it is exactly the same, if I am completely honest," he said.

"It is being able to focus on the game itself, understanding the intensity and the focus you need in every action.

"In every season, whatever you are playing for, it comes down to the final points you are playing for: whether it is for staying in the league, making the top four or winning the title it is exactly the same.

"Looking back at other seasons with Wigan, we managed to get seven wins out of the last nine and that is the same intensity you need to have in any aim you are fighting for."

 

It is Martinez's experience of previous relegation battles which makes him wary of the threat Sunderland may pose.

The Black Cats may be bottom of the table - seven points from safety with two matches in hand having taken just one point from their last seven games - but they cannot be underestimated precisely because of the position they are in.

"It is important that intensity and focus is there without getting affected in a negative way through the emotions of what the significance is of achieving or not achieving that aim," he added.

"I've seen it first hand. You can use those emotions in the right way and use them to your advantage.

"You get through the hurt of seeing you could lose your place in the division - that is difficult, but then you accept that you have an opportunity to achieve your aim of staying up and that is a significant moment.

"Those emotions affect the way the team plays, and Sunderland have seven games - more than any other team in that area - and it is still very much in their hands."

Everton's fate, too, is very much in their own hands, but Martinez does not feel what they do will have much psychological impact on Arsenal, who are involved in FA Cup semi-final action this weekend.

"The perception from the outside probably changed last Sunday (after beating Arsenal) that mathematically we have a great opportunity with six games to go, but internally nothing has changed," he added.

"We set our targets clearly in the final third of the season and we are in the same mindset because we are in a position where we are fighting for our own aim.

"When you get into this sort of fight against a team like Arsenal, who season after season have known how to perform under massive expectation, I don't think you can pile pressure on a team like that.

"Favourites or not, they are in that fourth position at the moment and we aspire to get as many points as we can, but it is not a moment to look at the table.

"We are very much at the peak of our season and we will enjoy every game ahead of us."

PA

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea