Tuesday 27 September 2016

Everton boss Roberto Martinez: Leicester an inspiration but they may be alone

Published 05/05/2016 | 11:41

Everton manager Roberto Martinez does not expect Leicester's triumph to be easily repeated
Everton manager Roberto Martinez does not expect Leicester's triumph to be easily repeated

Roberto Martinez hailed Leicester as an inspiration - but would be surprised to see other underdogs follow in their footsteps.

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Everton will be the guests at the Foxes' title party on Saturday when Claudio Ranieri's men will complete their impossible dream by lifting the Premier League trophy.

Usurping the big boys in the way Leicester have has caught the imagination of people across the world and left fans of teams everywhere wondering whether next time it could be them.

Toffees boss Martinez said: "You need to see it as the exception that proves the norm or something that is going to change the landscape of the competitive nature of the league. It's too early to see how that's going to develop.

"What Leicester have achieved is a great inspiration for any team sport and for any group in order to dream high and have huge expectations but I think we need to be realistic that this is not the norm.

"It's something we haven't seen in the modern game and I don't think that's going to be repeated easily."

Leicester defeated Everton 3-2 at Goodison Park in December in the reverse fixture.

At that stage they were already top of the table but it would be a long time before they were made title favourites, and Martinez admitted he was one of the doubters.

The Spaniard said: "Looking at the teams that were competing against Leicester at that point, you felt it was still a long battle to go. Looking at the incredible intensity Leicester were playing at, there was a question mark.

"They were in an unknown situation fighting for the title and you don't know how the team is going to react and if they're going to keep that intensity and I think that's where it's been a remarkable journey for Claudio Ranieri and his men to be able to maintain that intensity, that concentration and that togetherness.

"No major injuries and they've been a real inspiration in terms of a winning team, and not just in football, throughout sport, to have that drive and intensity to achieve something and then (do it) against all odds, it's been the real fairytale of the modern game."

Leicester are hardly paupers but their spending on players and wages was dwarfed by the teams they were competing against for the title, with their star players all cut-price buys.

Martinez, though, does not expect the Foxes' success to change the approach of other clubs to the transfer window.

"I don't think football clubs work on just looking at what the other teams are doing," he said.

"Every football club has a plan and you have your own structure, your own process. I just see it as an inspirational example. It's a celebration for the Premier League in general."

The points may no longer matter to Leicester but Everton are desperate to finish a difficult season on a high.

Victory over Bournemouth last weekend ended a seven-game run without a win and a strong showing over their final three games could earn them a top-half finish.

The celebrations began for Leicester as soon as Tottenham's draw with Chelsea on Monday confirmed the title was theirs, but Martinez dismissed suggestions that could make them less formidable foes.

He said: "I'm sure any sort of celebration could affect you in the long term if you had to face a difficult month. In a 90-minute game where the stadium is going to be an historic environment, I'm sure that can only be positive for the home team.

"Clearly they're going to be playing with swagger. We'll congratulate them and from that point on we'll focus on trying to perform against them."

Press Association

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