Baines full of praise for Martinez
Leighton Baines has hailed the work done by Roberto Martinez since succeeding David Moyes as manager of Everton.
Martinez took over from Moyes last summer, and while his predecessor has struggled during his maiden season at Manchester United, the Spaniard has won many admirers for the job he has done at Goodison Park.
The Toffees are currently locked in a battle for fourth spot with Arsenal, and Baines says Martinez made it clear he had high hopes for the club the day he walked in.
“He spoke about the Champions League from the start,” Baines told the Guardian. “He didn't shy away from it. He came in and straight away he set the bar high. We might have got away with a fairly ordinary season -- the changeover with the new manager, the first season, a transitional season -- but he didn't want to accept that. He wanted to improve on what we'd done before, and we've done that."
Baines spent a number of years playing under Moyes at Everton, and the Scot helped develop the 29-year-old into one of the finest left-backs in the country.
However, the England international suggests that Martinez has helped him progress to the next level.
"The two managers are totally different, in every way," he said. "They both have things they are really good at but with the current manager, he's ultra-positive. He takes the positive from every single scenario.
"That's been the big thing for me: the difference in the style of play, committing to that and not feeling like we have to adapt to the opposition. The new manager has that confidence and belief in himself, in his own blueprint. And then in us. He tells us we're not going to change, we're just going to improve constantly and keep practising until we get to the level where we want to be. Stick to it, don't compromise, get better at it.”
Given his impressive performances this season and that fellow left-back Ashley Cole has struggled for first-team football of late, Baines looks like playing a key role in England’s World Cup campaign this summer.
The defender, however, is refusing to get complacent, given the consistency Cole has shown for the Three Lions over the years.
"I can't ever take anything for granted," he said. "Ashley is still a formidable guy to get past. He's almost robotic in terms of the level he's produced and stayed at. Just look at him in the last England game. He hadn't been playing for Chelsea and then he turned up, played great and looked as fit as anyone."