Martinez - we have all to play for
Published 01/05/2014 | 10:02
Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists the integrity of his players means they do not intend just to make up the numbers against title-chasers Manchester City this weekend.
The Toffees are in the strange position where taking points off the visitors would put the destiny of the Premier League back in the hands of near-neighbours Liverpool.
To many Evertonians the thought of the red half of the city winning the championship after a 24-year hiatus is an unpalatable one and left plenty with mixed emotions ahead of the Goodison Park clash.
But Martinez said that was not an attitude recognised within the club, stressing Saturday's match was not about doing anyone favours.
"We are not in a season where we are playing for nothing, just making up the numbers. We are not that sort of football club," said the Spaniard, whose fifth-placed side still harbour ambitions of catching Arsenal four points ahead of them.
"The values we have as a football club mean we would never contemplate not to give our all in a game, especially when we have so much to fight for.
"I don't think there is any doubt about the integrity of our football club towards the league, we are a club who want to win every single game.
"They are precious points for us and we can't really afford not to give everything we have got for every point we have got left.
"If that adds some spice in the twists and turns of the title race so be it.
"As to helping other teams, that is not the way we do our work. It is not as if we are coming out on the pitch to do anyone a favour.
"We are focusing on trying to win for ourselves and have real high standards in every game we go into representing our club.
"The fans are the first ones who want to come to Goodison to enjoy and be proud of the team.
"It is important we are as good as we can be as we are facing a phenomenal football team and I think the fans understand that."
While rival fans on Merseyside gain little enjoyment from the success of the other, Martinez believes there can be a knock-on effect which benefits the city as a whole.
And he believes what Liverpool have achieved this season will help raise standards at Everton.
"I think rivalry in football is essential and the rivalry between the two clubs in the city will always be there," he added.
"It extends for many years and the chapters have been incredible examples in world football - not all rivalries have been unhealthy.
"You need that rivalry to be as strong as it can be, you need to push each other to achieve perfection and that is something we welcome in both clubs.
"The city as a whole needs to have that competitive edge so we can compete for the best we can aspire to.
"In a way both teams will benefit from those standards."
Everton captain Phil Jagielka has returned to the squad after 10 weeks out with a hamstring problem.
"It has been difficult to control Phil, not to get him back too early, and I think now is the next step to make sure he has a real strong ending to the campaign and make sure he is available for everything that is needed at England level," said Martinez.
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