Everton v Cardiff: Roberto Martinez hopes FA Cup exit can provide useful experience
The Toffees were knocked out by Arsenal
Friday 14 March 2014
Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes the experience of their FA Cup exit will make them a better side in the long run.
A 4-1 quarter-final defeat at Arsenal last weekend denied the Spaniard a return to Wembley for the second successive season after leading Wigan to glory last year.
It left the Toffees chasing Manchester United and Tottenham in the pursuit of a Europa League place but Martinez is a firm believer in taking positives from every situation and expects his side to grow after losing at the Emirates Stadium.
"We want to get into a position where we can learn from these sort of games to control the small margins but all the focus and concentration goes into the league, there is no reason for distraction," said the manager.
"It has been an intense period; we lost to Arsenal way from home and they have been involved in Champions League football for many seasons.
"It was a game which could have gone either way but there is no shame in losing a quarter-final away from home against a team like Arsenal.
"When you work together you develop many aspects in your performance and we have been developing and getting stronger.
"From the disappointment of going out of the quarter-finals of the FA Cup you learn what you can do better and develop experience.
"We have an incredible opportunity to be as good as we can for the fight of the final 11 games of the season and that is where everything gets decided.
"We've had a good campaign so far which has given us a solid amount of points and now we need to make sure we fight for every point and make sure we are a strong team until the end of the season."
Although publicly Martinez has not ruled out making a late bid for the top four the gap of nine points to Manchester City, who also have a match in hand, appears too great.
Instead the Toffees will realistically set their sights on qualifying for the Europa League with Manchester United, in sixth, just a point ahead.
Although they have the Red Devils in their sights it is not a tangible target the players can aim for but Martinez is not keen on giving his squad a required number of points to secure over the remaining 11 matches.
"Every group reacts differently (to targets)," he said.
"In general it is about small targets in improving internally - it doesn't need to be in the table or compared to other teams - but it is very important to have those targets in hand.
"We wanted to stay in the FA Cup, we wanted to be in both competitions for as long as we could but the reality is now it narrows the focus and the league becomes a really important competition for us.
"If you are in two tournaments then there is an argument to have about finishing one place higher in the table when you have an FA Cup final.
"Clearly now the objective is to finish a place above and it matters."
United and fifth-placed Tottenham are currently still in Europe but the Everton manager does not believe that will help his side that much in the long run.
"When you are talking about teams that are in Europe they had that in mind at the start of the season and their squads can cope with that," he said.
"The teams still in Europe have big squads so they can cope with that.
"Sometimes domestic cup competitions give you a surprising element because you can't always work out how long you will be in the tournament but teams in European competitions can cope and that makes a difference."
Goalkeeper Tim Howard, rested for the FA Cup, returns to face struggling Cardiff at Goodison Park on Saturday but Martinez admits at this stage of the season he is keeping an eye on his players' overall fitness.
"We need to be fresh. You get into this part of the season where players are starting to accumulate close to 3,000 minutes and you need to be a little aware of certain positions on the pitch," he explained.
"The squad is ready and we can cope with just sharing the demands of the next 11 games.
"Gerard Deulofeu and Aiden McGeady are fully fit and ready to finish the season strongly."
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