Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Everton striving for Champions League, says Baines

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 26 Nov 2016

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Leighton Baines says Everton are striving to become a side capable of reaching the Champions League.

Everton reached the qualifying stages of the competition under David Moyes in 2005, but failed to reach the group stages after a defeat to Villarreal and have been unable to get that close again, despite achieving five top-six finishes in the decade to follow.

The club sit seventh in the table this season under new boss Ronald Koeman, nine points behind leaders Chelsea and six adrift of Arsenal in fourth.

Baines acknowledges the Champions League is Everton’s ultimate goal, but stressed it would take time for Koeman’s changes to take full effect after replacing Roberto Martinez ahead of this campaign.

“It’s something we all strive for,” Baines said to Sky Sports.

“We enjoy being a part of those games, the European nights. That’s what we will strive for now.

“We have the cup competitions that are coming in soon, the FA Cup, so we are looking forward to what’s ahead.

“We were all impressed when he [Koeman] first came in and we made a good start.

“It was just a case of him reinstalling the fundamentals and the things we had come away from.

“But it’s not a quick fix. It takes time when a new manager comes in to get the side doing everything he wants them to do.

“We brought some new players in as well so we feel like we’re on a good path and we’ve got it all still to play for.

“We’re excited about what’s to come and beyond that, the manager and the new owner, the club is in a really exciting position at the moment.”

Everton are away to Koeman’s former club Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday as they look to improve on a poor run of results that has seen them win only once in seven top-flight games.

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