Everton defender John Heitinga has insisted that Everton are further away from the top four than in seasons past, with the 27-year-old admitting that the gap is widening between bigger and smaller spending clubs.
The Toffees only made two signings this summer, with both Denis Stracqualursi and Royston Drenthe coming to the club on loan spells. The side also had to let go of big name Mikel Arteta after Arsenal showed interest at the last minute on deadline day.
And Heitinga believes that the side are finding it more difficult than ever to compete with the likes of Manchester United, as the two sides faced off last Saturday.
“Of course they have the money and the better players,” he told the Liverpool Echo.
“But if you consider how much money they spent on their team, and how much money we spent on our team then the gap is not so big because we were the better team at times.
“But you have to be realistic, and the top four is better than the rest at the moment. At the moment the gap seems wider. Last season and two seasons ago we would beat all the big teams here, and so far we haven’t got one point against the big sides. So it’s for us to fight a little bit harder, and we’ll see what’s going to happen in the future.
“The United game was one of our better games recently. We had a lot of possession and created a lot of chances, but we were a little bit unlucky because they had only two or three shots on goal and scored a goal. We had plenty of chances but just couldn’t score.”
While Everton have had a tough start to the season, and are currently 16th in the Barclays Premier League table, Heitinga believes that the side can recover from their traditionally poor beginning with a couple of wins over the next few weeks.
“The league table doesn’t look great, but if you see the teams we’ve played against in the last couple of weeks, you know we need to win in the next few games,” he explained. “The start last season was worse than this season.”
While Heitinga admitted that Everton could use another striker in the January transfer period, he insisted that the spirit within the team is second to none.
“We have got a good squad if everybody is fit, and in the game against Chelsea we showed that the form of the team and the spirit is good. Everyone was trying to win every battle and show the crowd that we wanted to give a good performance," he added.
"If you see all the fans, it’s not for nothing that it’s the People’s Club. The spirit is good and I want to give a little bit better for the team, and show my experience for the team.”