For the past ten seasons, since they managed the feat under David Moyes, Everton have been desperately hoping to break through the Premier League's ‘glass ceiling’ and claim a place in the Champions League.
Against a backdrop of consistently losing star players and financial inferiority to their league rivals, the Toffees have often flirted with, but ultimately failed to achieve, this goal.
This season, the Premier League has unfolded in ways which nobody could have predicted, leaving a door to the top four wide open and unguarded with the top sides struggling for consistency.
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Manager Roberto Martinez has a chance to make good on the promise he made to chairman Bill Kenwright when he was appointed. The Spaniard claimed he was the man to bring Champions League football to Goodison Park and this season, in possession of a squad brimming with talent and experience, he will never have a better opportunity to do so.
Everton have flattered to deceive once again, though, and the penny has dropped for many fans that Martinez has placed too much emphasis on attack.
The solid defence of old seems a distant memory, with the gung-ho manner in which they attack and score goals perhaps the reason for this.
The brutal truth for Martinez is points are far more important than goals and entertainment - and he needs to realise this when deploying his side.
The 42-year-old has introduced a self-belief and willingness to attack that was often lacking under Moyes, yet his side are leaking important goals that result in draws and losses when perhaps a win was deserved.
The Toffees endured a difficult start to the season, playing against many of the Premier League's elite, but even against West Ham, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Norwich, Leicester and Stoke recently they have dropped 14 points.
In the past ten league matches, the Merseysiders have smashed home 23 goals home and played some great football, yet they've only won twice, against relegation strugglers Sunderland and Aston Villa.
If results don’t improve and European football isn't secured, Martinez risks losing the likes of John Stones, Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley, all of whom capable of playing in the Europa and Champions League.
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