Everton v Liverpool: Roberto Martinez reveals excitement of first Merseyside derby

The Spaniard came close to taking charge at Anfield before Brendan Rodgers was appointed

Roberto Martinez is “really excited” to be preparing for his first Merseyside derby as the Everton - and not Liverpool - manager.

Martinez left Wigan to take charge of the Toffees in the summer, a year after he was heavily tipped for the Anfield hotseat.

The Spaniard was identified by Liverpool as a potential successor to Kenny Dalglish in 2012 but, although he met with Reds owner John W Henry, the move did not happen.

Instead he stayed with Wigan and steered the club to an unlikely FA Cup win before finally moving to Merseyside with Everton after suffering relegation with Latics.

Martinez, speaking ahead of Saturday's clash between the rivals at Goodison Park, said: "I have got no time to look back, that is the reality of it.

"I am so proud and honoured to be manager of Everton and I am really excited to experience the Merseyside derby.

"I always believe in football - same as in life - that things happen for a reason.

"Everything is meant to happen and everything has to be natural to be successful. That is the way it has worked out.

"All that matters is what the future brings - I always believe this because it is meant to happen.

"I am delighted to be getting ready for a first Merseyside derby and really looking forward to it."

Asked if he had any regrets about what happened in the summer of 2012, Martinez said: "Never. You never get regrets in football. It is the opposite."

Martinez believes this weekend's derby, the 221st between the neighbouring clubs, will be extra special because of the strong starts both have made to their campaigns.

Liverpool will go into the Barclays Premier League contest second in the table and just two points behind leaders Arsenal.

Everton have also impressed this term, losing just once in the league since Martinez took control.

They are also unbeaten at home and are only three points behind Liverpool in sixth place.

Martinez said: "It is a massive game.

"First and foremost it is a glamorous fixture - it is one of those games that are followed worldwide and the significance, history and passion are all reflected in the game.

"But I think this one is even more important because it has got that football significance.

"Both teams are in the top six, both teams have had a very strong start to the season.

"When you add all the connotations of a derby with the importance of the points, I think this fixture is going to be as big and good as a football game can be."

Martinez, 40, is well aware of the history and traditional intensity of the Merseyside derby and the fixture's importance to supporters.

In a previous role as Swansea manager he experienced the ferocity of clashes against Cardiff, but anticipates something on a different level this weekend.

When asked about past derby experiences at his pre-match press conference, Martinez said: "I think probably the south Wales derby would be one that is full of passion and I would consider an out-and-out derby.

"There are many local clashes where you can see real passion but I don't think anything has been anywhere near what I am expecting on Saturday.

"I have heard many stories, especially from the kit room, about the history of the club and I know the derby on Merseyside is quite unique and quite special.

"I don't think it should be compared to any other in world football.

"There is that feeling of having the red and the blue spread out in the city, and not just in the city, spread out in families and in the workplace.

"That makes it a really intense topic of conversation and is part of the daily lives of every football fan in the city.

"That has made it, over the years, full of passion and history. It is quite a unique football fixture because of the meaning that comes with it."

PA

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