Roberto Martinez is hoping for a profitable December as Everton continue to strive for consistency in terms of both performances and results.
The attacking talent of Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu, combined with Martinez’s insistence his side play the ball out from the back, has made the Toffees one of the most attractive sides to watch in the Premier League.
But there are no points awarded for entertainment and Martinez wants to ensure players add substance to their style – especially after last weekend’s chastening experience when they twice led at Bournemouth, on the second occasion with an added time goal, but still ended up drawing 3-3.
They shook off that hangover with a midweek victory over Middlesbrough to set up a two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City but, with a month to go before that, the manager has ordered full focus on their league form.
“Obviously we want to aim for perfection and perfection is to play well, play exciting and attacking football that our fans enjoy and love and then to get a win at the end of it,” Martinez said.
“We are still getting through that important period which is the middle third of the competition and we are striving to push each other to become better and because we have such a young group you feel the improvement is always there.
“For the next block of games it is vital the attention goes into the Premier League and solely into the Premier League games as December is the most significant month in terms of competing for 15 points in such a short period of time.
“I know our fans have been loving the style and the way we have been playing, but we will never stop wanting to improve and getting better and promoting that competition for places.
“We want to be an exciting team to watch but, at the end of it, we want to be a team who can win consistently.”
Key to that will be the form of Lukaku, who has 10 league goals already this season and with 49 in 99 appearances for the club has a record which almost matches that of the great Joe Royle in his first 100 games.
The Belgium international has six in his last five matches and is proving to be well worth the club-record £28million spent to sign him from Chelsea two summers ago.
“As a footballer you want to help your team win at the weekend, but at the end of your career you want to be able to look back at special occasions,” said Martinez.
“Joe Royle was a proper Everton giant. To achieve that sort of goalscoring record is special and for Rom to be able to reach that is encouraging and a reminder of what a special footballer we have.
“I encourage him to keep working hard and make a massive impact in the game and I think he is in the same wave of thinking.
“You are not motivated by records you are motivated by winning games and keeping your place in the side.”