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How Roberto Martinez Has Put Everton on the Map

27/04/2014 19:44 BST | Updated 27/06/2014 10:59 BST

One of the most common sights at the denouement of the last few Premier League seasons is that of a North London club huffing and puffing around the last Champions League spot.

This season, however, Spurs are out of the picture and it's Everton snapping at Arsenal's heels, hunting for their first top four finish since 2005.

What's galvanised the perennial mid-table finishers to a Champions League push? A summer of upheaval saw their manager of 11 years, David Moyes, leave for pastures new and Roberto Martinez arrived to take the helm.

Many have credited the change in management with their recent upswing in form, so how exactly has Martinez turned things around so dramatically at Goodison Park?

1. Connecting With the Club and its Fans

However talented a manager is, if he doesn't form a bond with his players and his club's fans, he's dead in the water. This season, Andre Villas-Boas proved this at Tottenham as well as anyone.

Martinez, however, has steered well clear of making AVB's mistakes. As he puts it, "I deal with human beings Monday to Friday and I deal with footballers on Saturday."

This approach has gained him a strong respect from his players, while his obvious passion for the club has bought him the admiration of the fans too.

One of the most striking moments of the season came during the Toffees' 3-0 victory over Arsenal, when Romelu Lukaku added Everton's second goal and immediately charged over to the bench to sweep his temporary boss up in a massive bear hug. The gesture goes some way to showing the unity at Goodison Park at the moment and how instrumental Martinez has been in that.

Even if they miss out on the top four this season, the future's bright for Everton as Martinez looks to build a legacy at the club he clearly loves managing.

2. No Fear

Everton's record against big clubs under David Moyes was sketchy at best, as the Scot set the side out defensively to avoid losing heavily, hoping to pinch a draw.

This season, however, there's been a visible change in approach when tackling these matches. This month's defeats of Arsenal and Manchester United are the best examples, as Everton set out to dominate each game, taking the fight to their more illustrious opponents.

The belief that Martinez has instilled in the squad has paid dividends, as the Toffees won those matches 3-0 and 2-0 respectively. If Martinez can continue to help the players shake the 'small club' mentality that Moyes allowed to grow, then greater things may be yet to come for the men in blue.

3. Gareth Barry

To expand on a previous point, Gareth Barry may be the perfect example of a Roberto Martinez signing at Everton.

It would be a stretch to call Barry's arrival 'highly anticipated'. It might even be a stretch to call it 'anticipated'. Many Everton fans felt that the money spent on Barry would've been better invested in a young, exciting and not-washed-up player.

Fast-forward to the end of the season and opinion could hardly have turned around more. Barry has been a vital steadying influence in Everton's midfield, allowing the outstanding Ross Barkley more attacking license.

Martinez deserves real credit for identifying what the 33-year-old veteran could bring to his system and managing to bring him in on loan, keeping costs to a minimum.

4. Smart Use of the Transfer Market

Everton have never been a club to spend big. You have to go back to 2008 for the last instance of their transfer outlay being significantly more than their transfer income, around £4.5m.

As such, it's fair to assume that Martinez knew when taking the job at Goodison that he'd have to make his signings count.

The strength of Martinez's transfer policy at Everton isn't in the volume of players he's signed, or in attracting big names to the club, but in his ability to perfectly identify the weak areas of the squad and fill the gaps. His use of the loan market to perfection is of particular significance.

Indeed, the Spaniard's acquisition of Romelu Lukaku on a season-long loan has been one of the signings of the year and his performances have left parent club Chelsea looking on enviously as they struggle for a reliable striker.

5. Ambition

In less than a year, the story of Martinez walking into Bill Kenwright's office and announcing "I will get you in the Champions League" has already become stuff of club legend.

The statement showed the Spaniard's confidence in both his own abilities and those of his players, but Kenwright's reaction to this declaration, telling Martinez that it's an impossible task, showed a deeper problem at the club - a lack of ambition.

The new manager has been a breath of fresh air at a club that had begun to stagnate, unable to better their 6th-8th place finishes and even becoming

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