Martinez: Fixture demands cost us
Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists it is no major surprise that English clubs have struggled in Europe this season because of the domestic demands of the Barclays Premier League.
The Toffees were the country's last hope on the continent before a 5-2 loss to Dynamo Kiev in Europe on Thursday night meant they followed Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City in crashing out at the last 16 stage.
It meant that there were no English teams in Friday's draw for either the Champions League or Europa League quarter-finals for the first time since 1995, sparking a countrywide debate about the state of the domestic game.
However, Martinez believes it is the competitive nature of the Premier League, coupled with a lack of a winter break, which is hampering clubs when they face fresher, less-tested teams in European competitions.
"I think there are aspects there that make it very, very difficult for an English club to have success in Europe," the Spaniard said.
"If you look at the top leagues in Europe most of those have got a little break in the winter. I'm not saying that's the difference but it can make a big difference in a squad that is playing domestically two cup competitions, when others are playing one cup competition.
"We need to understand that our league is the best in world football. And when I say the best it's because if you are at 70 per cent in a game, you're going to lose it. That's how competitive it is. It doesn't matter about position in the table and I don't think the other leagues have that.
"The top teams that are normally involved in Europe can cruise through games and that makes it a lot easier to plan a group of fixtures in a two-to-three-week period. That is a big difference and that affects English clubs.
"It's not by coincidence. Some of the clubs in the Champions League have been unfortunate, there have been small margins but those small margins could easily be the demands that you face domestically. It's something that clearly hasn't been working in our favour."
Martinez's men were ruthlessly eliminated in Kiev by a display of clinical attacking finishing as the hosts exposed their visitors' defensive frailties.
But while the manner of their exit was disappointing to Martinez, he took plenty of heart from a campaign which saw them beat Wolfsburg home and away and take four points off Lille in the group stage.
"It's started a real thirst to be in that environment again," Martinez added.
"For our younger players, it is the first time they've been in Europe and the way we succeeded in many of those games, going away into different countries and being able to perform has been very important.
"I do feel that the players in the squad, myself, my staff and the football club as a whole will want more of it. It gives you a real desire to push ourselves to become a winning team and have that more often.
"We're all disappointed from the result last night but to reach the quarter-finals of this competition is something we last did 30 years ago, that shows you the size of the achievement."