Breaking the established hierarchy in English football and winning a place in the Premier League’s top four has historically been a task that few underdogs have achieved. This term, with the power of the Manchester clubs on the wane and Chelsea falling from grace dramatically, it has opened the door for others to push for Champions League qualification.
Leicester City and Tottenham are battling for the league title, while West Ham United also have a slim chance of making the top four. But, one side that will rue not showing more consistency in a bid to take advantage of this situation will be Everton.
The Toffees have had the ambition of finishing in the top four for the last few campaigns, and with some of the young starlets in the Goodison Park ranks, on their day, the Merseyside outfit are a match for anyone.
However, with Everton being well and truly beaten 4-0 by cross-city rivals Liverpool in midweek and currently sitting in 11th place in the table, pressure is mounting on Roberto Martinez.
Despite Romelu Lukaku’s 18 league goals and some positive results throughout the campaign, the Toffees have not been a consistent enough unit to challenge for European qualification. As such, the likes of the Belgian striker, Gerard Deulofeu and John Stones are all likely to be in real demand this summer, so keeping them on the blue half of Merseyside without the promise of Champions League football will be a tough task.
With a new bankroller in the form of Farhad Moshiri and ambitions plans to expand, there is an argument building that Martinez will be shown the door this summer. But should Everton cut ties with the former Wigan Athletic boss or give him more time?
It may well be that the outcome of this weekend’s clash with Manchester United in the FA Cup has a major bearing on Martinez’s future. Winning the FA Cup would be a way of salvaging the club’s season – without silverware it will be a campaign to forget.
Talk that the likes of Manuel Pellegrini or Marcelo Bielsa could be tempted to Merseyside has been doing the rounds, and there is no denying that a new coach could be a welcome shot in the arm for Everton.
It is hard to argue against the fact that a talented Toffees side has simply not played to its potential this season, and the buck stops with Martinez.
However, the flip side of that coin is that continuity and giving a manager time to help the team progress can be a winning formula.
The Spaniard clearly has the respect of the players and has demonstrated tactical acumen during his time as a head coach.
With a few new faces courtesy of Moshiri’s money this summer, there is every chance that Everton could be in the top-four mix next season under Martinez.
Although the derby defeat will have stung Martinez, and the fans, to the core, the Spanish coach will know that this weekend’s clash against Man United is arguably more important and could well be the difference between him having a job or not come the summer.