When Blue Kipper Met Roberto Part 3
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Blue Kipper met Roberto Martinez for the second time this season at the first team canteen at Finch Farm for an interview with Everton Fans.

Monsieur Bleu represented Blue Kipper. Also around the table were Paul from Toffeeweb, Graham and Phil from When Skies are Grey, Dave from NSNO, Joe from SOS1878, Barry from Footyscene and Ped from Followtonians.

The questions were asked by all the group, and some questions were duplicated, so I've edited into a few parts as it was such a long interview, so that nothing is missed.

Everton made us welcome with a laid back approach we sat in a circle with a cup of coffee. We took turns to ask questions. It lasted over an hour and a half.

This is Part 3 - Click here for Part 2 

Question: Touching on the experienced players, which you've brought up a few times now, the likes of Tony Hibbert, etc. Obviously Tony hasn't featured much at all this season. Where do you see the roles of players like that in the future, with Leon Osman also having a testimonial coming up? 

Roberto: Leon is an experienced player and he's very fit. He's the only player that has been involved in every game in the league, and that's not easy. Because obviously you need to be fully fit, you need to be able to adapt. And Leon is very much, I would say, in the prime of his career. How long he's going to carry on in that prime we don't know, but he's very influential. Tony Hibbert has been very unfortunate. A couple of times he picked up little niggles when he was going to play. The game that he played against Stevenage I saw Tony back to himself. I would love Tony to stay with us. I know he's out of contract, I need to speak with him, but when you've got that experience, having a happy Tony Hibbert at the club will allow youngsters to fulfil their potential. He's got those words of wisdom and is a reliable footballer. So we're going to find out about Tony but I would love to see him staying for a long time. 

Question: Duncan Ferguson joined the first team coaching staff this year. He was my hero growing up but I was surprised - I never thought he'd have the discipline and focus to be a successful coach, given his history and so on. Can you tell us a little bit about what he brings to the training ground and dressing room, why you wanted him on board? 

Roberto: That's what we all do - we see a player, and we imagine that player as a coach or as a manager, and its hard to see Duncan doing that. The thing is, Duncan is not an "ex-player". Duncan finished his career. He switched off from football, he took a little bit of a break, and then all of a sudden he made the conscious decision that he wanted to be a coach. He wanted to be someone helping players through his own experiences. He's opened himself up, trying to see different ways of playing. Duncan Ferguson as a coach is not an "ex-player". Duncan Ferguson is a man that is in love with the game. He loves the club no end, like you could not imagine. What he brings is incredible standards - he's the first one in the building and the last one out. He loves the game. He's enthusiastic. He wants to learn different systems, different ways of playing - he's been fascinated by the possession game, when obviously as a player he was a master of direct football, how you rely on a number nine that can bring the ball down. So he's got such an open spectrum of how to play the game. He gives great knowledge to the players, that one to one advice, that one to one work. Because he's been through difficult experiences as well, sometimes as a player he will tell you that he made the wrong choices. He's got that bit of advice, and players look up to him saying "he's got that real know-how". That respect that he brings as a coach, is quite impressive. I've been very impressed by the manner that Duncan has developed as a coach. His influence has been very very good. 

Question: Does he aspire to be a manager one day? 

Roberto: I hope so. I think someone like him should try to do that. He's a leader, he commands real clarity in the way he sees things. When you meet people in football, you have the ones who always doubt, who always worry - he's very clear and that's important for a manager. Overall I'm sure that he wants to naturally feel that he's ready and he's learnt everything, and I think he's got everything to be a very good manager. 

Question: Since you've come to Everton you've really bought into the history of the club. When you were a kid growing up in Spain and supporting Real Zaragoza, did you know much about Everton, and did you know we played each other in the European Cup Winners Cup? 

Roberto: No, I didn't know then but I found out later. 

Question: According to my dad you kicked us off the park! 

Roberto: Really? That's not Zaragoza at all! I always believe that the history and the heritage of a club are vital. I know there are other managers who don't want to look back, and just move forward, and I accept that. But for me, everything I want to do is for the fans to be proud of. If you don't know the history, and you don't know what's in the DNA of the club, you'll never know that. We are so privileged to have the past that we have. I know a lot of people say "well we haven't won anything since '95" and they see it as derogative that you're highlighting things, when it's the opposite. We've been successful. We've got nine league titles. We should be proud of that, and that should inspire the players that get the opportunity to play for Everton. So it's a very different way of approaching things. When I was in Spain we didn't get much footage of the British game. The time that I first got in touch with Everton was when Gary Lineker signed for Barcelona. Obviously Lineker was a big signing, they introduced him and where he made his name, and that was the goalscoring season he had at Everton. That was the first time I saw Goodison Park and it looked an incredible place to play football. So I think we are privileged with our history, we shouldn't be ashamed that we haven't won anything since '95 because our history goes back over a hundred years, so you can really look at beautiful memories, from Dixie Dean and so on. Its just finding inspiration for the new generation to go forward and win silverware in the future. 

Question: We talked before about young players who've stayed at the club. There's been a considerable number who have gone out on loan. How have they developed and what can they bring back to the club? 

Roberto: The way we work it with Alan Irvine and Alan Stubbs and David Unsworth, is very much to individualise a programme for the player. Once they get to the under 21s - that's where the B teams would be perfect for their development - but all individuals go through a process, where after playing for the under 21s they need to go out and get experience. Then we get them back, and we reassess and send them back out again. Then when they come back if they've been successful, the decision is - are they ready for the first team? Or do we need to just promote the new generation underneath? All the stories have been successful. Hallam Hope - he's found an incredible level at Bury, he's been a good goalscorer and he's taken responsibility, when he arrived at Bury it was a difficult time - they had to get results. With Matthew Kennedy we had a very interesting situation where he's gone to Tranmere, he did really well. When he came back he needed to work on other aspects of his game, and we sent him out to MK Dons, and now he's coming back with a really good positive report. Matthew Pennington - I know in the end we've ended up with a negative feeling because of the relegation of Tranmere, but in terms of experience its been incredible. Even scoring as a right back, scoring in the last game of the season. So all these three players that I mention, they've gone from young players with potential, to players. Tyias Browning went away and he had a bad experience, which became a good experience to use him back in the first team. Luke Garbutt is a player that is in the first team because he had a great time at Colchester. Tolos Vellios went out to Blackpool and he found it very difficult, and it didn't work out. Every time a player goes out on loan, its very helpful to see where the players are and how we can direct them and help them in their development. That's why I would hope that one day we don't have to send anyone on loan, that we can do it in house, and the only way to do that is with the B teams. But all the loan stories have been a real success this season, even Francisco Junior who is away now in Norway. 

Question: The Europa League next season - from next year the winners go into the Champions League qualifiers. Does that make it more of a priority for us? Do you view it as a chance to grow or do you actually view it as - if we get out of the group stages and we look healthy after Christmas, we've got a chance of achieving something? 

Roberto: First of all I think the Europa League is an incredible competition. I don't agree with people that want to be derogative or negative about the competition. I do think that if you want to be successful in the Champions League, you need to have an introduction through the Europa League and learn a lot. And then you go into the Champions League and maybe you can be yourself. You look at Man City, with all the money that they've spent, their first couple of seasons in the Champions League they've found difficult. I just hope that we can use the Europa League as a development process, and a learning curve for everyone, to try and get us as good as we can away from the domestic league. But I think you can't look at a competition thinking "we want to win it" until you get into the later stages. I think there are two competitions within the competition. Its how you get on in the group stages - how the young players embrace playing in Europe, how you cope with teams that are going to be completely different tactically, completely different in the way they're going to play. And then when you get into the semi-finals, you look at it now, you've got Juventus, Benfica, Sevilla and Valencia. They are top Champions League contenders, so the competition is as good as it gets. Now when you get into that stage that is the moment when you say look at the others, can we really win this? Let's have a proper go. I think in the early part of the competition its "can we be successful in this competition?" And to be successful means can we get the results to get through, and can we get those results at the same time as getting results at home in the league and the FA Cup and the League Cup and we don't get affected. That is when you get the mentality of a top club, and you can only get that through experiencing it and trying. 

Question: I never understand people saying "its Thursday and Sunday and it will affect us", but they want to be in the Champions League which is Wednesday and Saturday - playing exactly the same amount of games and the same rest period. 

Roberto: As a club you need to make a decision. When you're in the Champions League its because financially, and as a club, you can afford to have 28 or 29 top players. When you've got 28 or 29 players, where anyone can play, it doesn't matter if you play Wednesday and Saturday or Thursday - you're ok. The problem is when you've got 20 players, and you've got 2 injuries and one suspension, and then you have to play Thursday and Saturday or Thursday and Sunday. That is a problem. But as a team if we embrace playing in Europe, and we've got 28 or 29 players, and we prepare for every game as we normally do, it shouldn't make a difference. People get caught up because the Europa League financially is not such a big reward. The Champions League is, and the teams that are in the Champions League have got big enough squads to cope with those demands, and we need to make sure that our demands are well calculated and we are well prepared to face both competitions without being affected. 

Question: It should be remembered that the only European trophy we've ever one, is one that no one would really be interested in now, the European Cup Winners Cup. No monetary value in it, but I had some of my greatest nights in '85. We beat Bayern Munich and Fortuna Sittard and those kinds of teams, and that gave Everton a massive part of its history. 

Roberto: I don't understand why people don't see the worth of European tournaments when they are not the Champions League. I don't understand it, because at the end of the tournament you need to play against top teams in European football. You saw that Chelsea won it last season. If you look at Benfica, Juventus, they are top teams - teams that could easily win the Champions League. Its just at a certain time they lose a game, or not, and you end up in one competition or the other. But finding a way of having an arrogant mentality where you can be successful in Europe, for me is as important in the Europa League as the Champions League. 

Question: Do you believe that luck balances itself out over the season, or do you think it has this season? Because we've been a bit unlucky with a few decisions - away at Chelsea, away at Man City, away at Cardiff, away at Tottenham. Do you think we've had our fair share of luck this season - has it gone both ways? 

Roberto: Remember, the way we are as a team, because we tend to have most of the possession, we are a team that always needs to break teams down. We are not a team that is going to get favoured in decisions. It's the way we are and the way we play. My focus is - to be good enough you need to be able to achieve results without relying on decisions. I do think that we've been unfortunate at times, and we've been fortunate at other times. I don't think it balances up, I don't agree with that. But I always want to focus on being able to win games without relying on tight decisions and the breaks. You need to be superior so you don't rely on all that, on third parties. Overall I think we've been ok. 

Question: One of the criticisms of our play this season has been that we move the ball too slowly at times, and this has allowed the opposition to get men behind the ball and be difficult to break down. Using Liverpool as an example from last season, there was a long-standing joke that "they won the passing", but it wasn't very effective at times. This season they've had the same core philosophy, but its been more direct counter-attacking play, and its obviously been very successful for them. Are we looking to move the ball more quickly? 

Roberto: I think to be a successful team, as I said before, you need to be flexible and adaptable. The moment that you are not that, you become predictable. We've seen it with the best team, in my eyes, in world football - Bayern Munich. Against Real Madrid they couldn't find their way. I do think that we need to be flexible enough to be good at everything. When you go from not being the team with most possession to becoming the team with most possession, its not going to be perfect. So there is going to be a process where you don't move the ball quick enough, the angles are not right, the way you get into the final third is sometimes a little bit forced. So it's a little bit of an evolution, and I think every fan at Goodison has seen a big difference between the games early on in the season, and the way we finished the season. The aim is - can we get better in our possession football, which we need to get better at. Then, can we be good and dynamic and strong in the transition of play, which in the modern game you need. When you have players like Ross Barkley, who is probably the best footballer in transition in football, you know that we're going to be strong in that respect. If we have good pace in the squad we'll always be strong at that. But we want to be a team that is capable of getting the ball from the keeper, and going through eleven players, and that's the art of possession. 

Part 4 will be on the site by the end of the week. For Part 2 Click here

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Comments about When Blue Kipper Met Roberto Part 3
El Bob gave a mention to Luke Garbutt, and he made his debut for England U21s tonight and had a very effective game, setting up the 3rd goal. What a brilliant way to celebrate his 21st birthday, this Wednesday!
Joe Dids, Bury, Lancs, 10:48 PM 19/05/2014
I think I've hit on his theme song. I'm a believer.
Willy, Eckerslyke, 4:04 PM 19/05/2014
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