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Everton making fourth would be a major victory for the English game

Roberto Martinez has been working wonders at Goodison Park this season, yet a Champions League spot would be a just victory for the entire Premier League.

Everton have emerged from the mediocre days of David Moyes as one of the most likeable teams in the division, playing a type of football almost as technical as anything La Liga has to offer yet with all the exciting directness of English football.

Ross Barkley has blossomed under his new Spanish manager, finally allowing the Toffees the make the most of their excellent youth system rather than sending their best academy products to win trophies elsewhere. Behind him, James McCarthy has continued on his path to become one of the most assured players in his position in the league. Future prospects in the mould of Wayne Rooney and Jack Rodwell might just stick around from now on rather than jump ship.

They've even shown up the wastefulness of the so-called super clubs, allowing Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku to run riot and look like world beaters at times. Some may suggest these loan signings have been unfair for various reasons, but Everton should be applauded for rescuing these players and allowing them to express themselves in Martinez's system for the benefit of all.

A new face in the top four beyond the mega rich would also be good to see. While Arsenal have been thwarted by the challenge of oligarchs and sheikhs, they're beginning to look a bit stale and stagnant.

In contrast, Everton look like a fresh and upwardly mobile club who are more likely to make the most of fourth place than the Gunners. Dropping out of the Champions League spots might be the sort of prod that the Emirates hierarchy needs to decide whether to back Arsene Wenger to the hilt or let him move on to pastures new.

Either way, in many regards Martinez is a better version of the Frenchman. He's determined to build Everton up, stressing the importance of improving facilities as well as his squad to chairman Bill Kenwright. Various players have also spoken out about the Spaniard's improved training exercises and focus on tactics compared to Moyes, showing his determination to raise standards on Merseyside.

Seeing Goodison Park hosting top-level European nights once again would be a major win for the ideas of responsible managing and good football played by a team rather than a few high-class individuals bought at extreme costs. The Toffees have been  more exciting to watch at times than Manchester City, whose squad has been put together for untold billions. Beating the dullards at Manchester United and Chelsea in the style stakes has been a doddle.

Yet there's yet to be any arrogance come through from the way they play. After so many years of struggle, Everton fans aren't about to become self-absorbed egotists.

For so long they've arguably been the most authentic club in the Premier League, with a wonderful fanbase full of people who understand how to appreciate the game and how it should be played. It seems almost mean that they were stuck with Moyes for so long considering how their side has flourished after being given a few ideas and a bit of freedom to play.

Who's to say what Martinez could achieve with more time and a Champions League budget? The arrival of Gerard Deulofeu on loan from Barcelona shows just how well-connected he is, and his status within the game as far as players go. If Everton make it into the top four he will be able to draw some brilliant talents to Goodison through his own reputation, his team's excellent football and the promise of playing in the most glamourous competition in club football.

So many people declare themselves to be against modern football, but Martinez's team are showing that the old school values of the game's golden years aren't dead in the top flight. As Liverpool shoot for the title, their cross-town rivals have the chance of book-ending that success with an even more impressive feat coming in at fourth.

The Blues are one of traditional strongholds of the best of the English game, with supporters who know their football and their successes will only enrich the Premier League and its long-term health.

Next year, it may be Martinez—rather than Jurgen Klopp or Diego Simeone—making headlines in Europe, and English football will be all the better for it.

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