SYLVAIN DISTIN believes Everton are one of an increasing number of sides who have realistic aspirations of qualifying for European football next season – but the French defender relishes the competition.
The 34-year-old has played in England’s top flight for over a decade and has seen first hand how the Premier League has grown into the most fiercely-contested division in Europe.
Distin says every game one of the 38 league games is particularly demanding, as typified by how hard Everton had to battle at Stoke City just to earn a point last weekend.
But the centre-half – who has played for Newcastle United, Manchester City and Portsmouth as well as Everton in this country would not have it any other way – even if he likened facing Stoke as playing against 11 “monsters”.
Last weekend’s draw at the Britannia Stadium, and subsequent wins for Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, meant the Goodison Park side dropped out of the top four and down to sixth.
For Distin, such level of competition is simply par for the course in the modern game.
“It was the top four before but now it seems more like it should be the top six if not seven and that’s great,” said Distin.
“There are no easy games anymore and I don’t think you can rest any players any more. There are so many great games – it’s good for the fans, the league and the players so there’s no complaints from me.”
He added: “If you want to make a big deal of it then yes we should win at places like Stoke. But if you want to be realists you look at it; we had a good opposition and how much did we spend during the summer? I think less than £10m.
“The teams above us spent big money, maybe £30m. I don’t know where the problem is. People say they’re not happy if we’re not in the top four, as if we should always be there.
“That’s not the case. The same teams have been in the top four for the last 10 years and we just try our best. That’s it.
“We don’t have a massive squad but we have a good spirit and I think we’re having a good season. We’ve lost only two games and we’ve played some big teams so far. Personally I don’t see a problem.”
As Distin says, Everton do not have a squad bursting at the seams but he does not let such issues concern him.
Not only is the defender confident in the durability of the current set of players, he also says he leaves transfer matters other people.
“Everybody wants new players but I guess we can ask any player from any club and they’ll say the same,” he said.
“You want the team to improve. I don’t know whether it’s going to happen or not. but that’s not our business. Our business is to do well on the pitch no matter what, and I don’t waste my time thinking whether someone’s going to come or not. Personally I think it’s a waste of time thinking about it too much.”
EXTRA tickets have been made available for Everton’s Boxing Day game at home to Wigan Athletic. The Latics have not taken their full allocation for the 3pm kick-off so home supporters can purchase tickets for seats in the Upper Bullens. Fans can buy tickets in person from the Park End Box Office, or from the city centre sales points in Everton Two and TicketQuarter in Queen Square. Alternatively tickets can be purchased by calling 0871 663 1878 or visiting evertonfc.com/eticketing (with the option to collect tickets from Goodison before the game).