EPL: Everton have 'nine finals' to save season, says Roberto Martinez
Everton manager Roberto Martinez has targeted "nine finals" to banish any lingering relegation concerns and lift his team as high as possible in the Premier League.
The Merseysiders have finished in the top half of the table for the past eight seasons and last year`s fifth place earned them a spot in the Europa League.
But after losing 5-2 at Dynamo Kiev on Thursday for a 6-4 aggregate defeat, they return to domestic football away to Queens Park Rangers on Sunday looking over their shoulder at the six teams below them -- including QPR.
Last weekend`s 3-0 win over Newcastle was only their second success in 13 league games, although it kept them six points above the relegation places.
"We see these nine games as nine finals," Martinez, who took over at Goodison Park 20 months ago but has been unable to replicate last season`s success, told a news conference.
He said the Europa League campaign had been a "huge, huge positive" this season, adding that the younger players will have learned a lot from the "phenomenal" experience.
That will count for nothing, however, if they are dragged into a relegation fight.
Everton are second only to Arsenal for longevity in the top-flight of English football, with an unbroken run since 1954.