REUTERS – Everton must prioritise a Champions League berth ahead of winning cup competitions if they are to keep their talented young players at Goodison Park, manager Roberto Martinez has said.
Everton face Manchester City in the first leg of their Capital Cup semi-final on Wednesday and while Martinez would love to bring the club their first major trophy since 1995, he believes a top-four league finish, and a Champions League spot, would have a bigger impact in the long run.
“I don’t think winning a cup will keep the young players. I think qualifying for the Champions’ League could help to keep young players,” said Martinez, who took charge in 2013.
Everton are 11th in the league with 27 points, though they have registered fewer defeats than Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Watford and Stoke City, who all sit above them in the table.
Striker Romelu Lukaku is currently joint top scorer in the league with 15 goals, and the club have had to fend off interest in emerging English talents John Stones and Ross Barkley.
“Three years ago it was a very experienced team who knew how to win games, but we had some sort of ceiling,” said Martinez. “Now we have gone very, very young with immense potential to go beyond that ceiling, and there has been investment in that potential so we will get the rewards from it.
“There are no financial decisions that will dictate what this squad needs. I wouldn’t say I don’t want to win silverware, because that is what this club is about and our aim is to have that drive and ambition to do that, but the aim is get into the top four, and that is what we have set out to achieve.”
Everton take on Dagenham & Redbridge in the FA Cup on Saturday before resuming league action against Manchester City midweek.
(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)