Spaniard leads Everton against Crystal Palace on Wednesday believing his players can cope with newly discovered pressure of finishing in the top four.
Everton manager Roberto Martínez claimed on Tuesday that the expectation to qualify for the Champions League does not weigh heavily on the shoulders of his players even though their fate is in their own hands.
To beat Arsenal to the final Champions League place would be a outstanding feat for Martínez in his first season in charge, given that Arsène Wenger ’s side have qualified for European football’s elite competition for the past 16 consecutive season.
There is a growing sense of anticipation among Everton supporters as they are now masters of their own destiny, but the Spaniard believes his side will approach a decisive period without anxiety.
“There is no pressure on us,” Martínez said. “I think the pressure comes when you have something to lose. We are in a position where we have everything to gain.
“We have already gained the club’s highest points tally in Premier League history and that is an achievement. So from this point on, we have everything to gain and the only things I am focusing on are maintaining our standards and the competition for places.”
Martínez believes the attention his side have received from Wenger, who remains confident Arsenal can finish ahead of Everton, is a barometer of the threat they pose.
“It is a footballing compliment,” Martínez explained. “When you have a team like Arsenal looking at where Everton are, that is a good sign.”
When Martínez was presented as manager at a press conference at Goodison Park last June, Everton chairman Bill Kenwright revealed that the Spaniard told him he would bring Champions League football to the club.
It was a strong statement for the former Wigan manager, and one Martínez perhaps expected to remain within the private confines of his job interview rather than a public declaration by Kenwright.
And the 40-year-old admits he initially had reservations about how such lofty ambition might be taken in the dressing room.
“At the press conference it was a little bit too early to say we would be challenging because I hadn’t even told my players about the vision,” Martínez said.
“It was a little bit, ‘I don’t know how the players are going to react to this’. But it has always been my vision that Everton would fight for Champions League football.
“I expected to be the one to slowly unfold the plans, not just give it on the first day. Looking now, the players have been terrific in their reaction.”