Blues boss makes Goodison bow in friendly against compatriots Real Betis
Roberto Martinez has urged his squad to ensure a “ferocious” competition for places this season as the new Everton manager prepares for his Goodison bow.
Martinez will take charge of his first home game tomorrow when his charges wrap up their pre-season programme with a friendly against Spanish side Real Betis.
Everton returned to Merseyside yesterday from the United States having taken on Juventus, Real Madrid and Valencia in the International Champions Cup.
Martinez has been impressed by the performances of a number of youngsters during pre-season.
And, allied to a clutch of new signings, the Spaniard is confident nobody can take their place for granted during the forthcoming campaign.
“I’ve been surprised in a positive, good way by the youngsters, the likes of John Stones, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu, who is starting to adapt to the British game,” said Martinez.
“We have a large squad and a real competition for places. It’s important that every game we play in pre-season gives us an insight into what these players can do.
“It’s a learning process. The closer you get to start of the season you are starting fine tune in many aspects. We are getting as close to being as fit as we can.
“But the team that starts against Betis won’t necessarily start the first game of the season.
“We want the competition for places to be as a ferocious as we can.”
While admitting it will be “special” to sit in the home dugout at Goodison for the first time tomorrow, Martinez believes it will be of more significance to the new boys who will be making their first appearances in front of their new fans.
“It will be special going to Goodison as the home team manager for the first time,” said the Everton manager. “You only get one opportunity to savour that.
“For some of the new players it will be an opportunity to find their feet in their new home and they are excited about it.
“It will also be great for the fans to see the team and appreciate how hard they have been working in pre-season.
“But the only thing that matters is the team and players enjoy their football and have the support of the magnificent fans.
“I’ve already had the opportunity to see what an incredible away support we have, not just in the UK but across the world, and that’s been a really nice surprise.
“But I know how intense the feeling at Goodison can be and that’s a very important weapon we can use in the future.”
Tomorrow’s match is the final for Betis of a pre-season tour of England having remained unbeaten in their previous five games, the most recent of which was a 1-1 draw at Fulham on Monday.
Betis finished seventh in La Liga last season, and Martinez said: “They had a very, very good season. They have a really settled team. Their manager Pepe Mel has been working really well and added different aspects to the team.
“They work as unit and press high up and try to get control of the football. They have some creative footballers that can really hurt you.
“It’s going to be a very good test. They have been in the UK for more than 20 days playing different games, so they will be able to cope and be used to the physicality of the English game.”