After a comfortable Europa League 3-0 win over French side Lille on Thursday, Everton's manager was in good spirits. After the match Roberto Martinez was quoted telling reporters: "We are in a football club that are expected to win things...It's been a long time since we won a trophy but the relationship between Everton and European competitions goes back to the 1950s." He went on to say "It's in our DNA and we have to galvanise it and get it now."
Everton continue to sit at the top of Group H with eight points, one point ahead of Vfl Wolfsburg who the Toffees defeated 4-1 at Goodison Park back in September and will face again on the road on November 27th. Their final group match will come on December 11th when Krasnodar will make the long trip to Goodison. A win in either match will secure Everton's spot in the knockout round. There are other scenarios as to how this can play out but the team would benefit greatly from taking matters into their hands and advancing outright.
Smartly, Roberto pointed out that there is no easy road to a championship. There are many strong clubs involved in the competition who also look likely to advance at this point. With two matches remaining in the group stage, the other group leaders are as follows: Borussia Monchengladbach, Club Brugge, Besiktas/Tottenham Hotspur, SV Salzburg, Dinamo Moscow, Internazionale, Sevilla FC, Napoli, Dynamo Kiev, Fiorentina and Legia Warsaw. There are also several top clubs nipping at their heels and looking to secure that second sport. These consist of clubs such as Celtic, Villareal and PSV Eindhoven.
So how much weight do Martinez's comments carry? Well, they are exactly the things we want to hear from a manager. He is recognizing the club's rich history while acknowledging that he believes that his squad can compete with the better clubs on the continent. It's also very early to be trying to pull any big predictions out of his comments. First Everton need to advance out of the group, then we will have to see who they are paired up with in the next round.
There must be a "game at a time" mentality with the club, especially this year. Everton have had a very up and down season where they will look dominant in one match and then in the next they will play on their heels to a lesser team. The injury
bug swarm plague has not helped either but at least the most recent injuries have not been devastating. Despite the health-related setback the Blues have managed to move forward and remain competitive at home and abroad. So while there is no guarantee of silverware heading to Merseyside this year, we should continue to expect a good showing from the club for the remainder of the competition.