Kevin Kilbane says Roberto Martinez’s approach has changed Everton’s perception in the media this season.
Since retiring from playing, the Republic of Ireland international has taken up a role with the BBC where he regularly commentates on games up and down the country as part of Five Live’s Premier League coverage.
He has also been seen in the Match of the Day studio and last weekend was part of the Football Focus panel which broadcast live from Goodison Park.
Kilbane later watched on as the Blues responded from just their third defeat of the season at Anfield days earlier by beating Aston Villa to reclaim fifth position in the table.
Everton could potentially move a place higher this weekend, should they make it back-to-back wins against Tottenham at White Hart Lane and Liverpool lose at home to Arsenal.
And according to Kilbane, it’s a position that many journalists and pundits believe Everton could realistically hold onto when fortunes are determined in the middle of May.
“Now people from within the media are turning up to the games expecting Everton to win,” Kilbane told evertontv.
“I was at the game against Arsenal . The majority of people thought Arsenal would win the game but there were still a lot of people who thought Everton would go there and play open football and attack Arsenal, and I think that was proven on the day.
“That is the belief within the media, that Everton have real credentials of a top-four finish this season.
“Everton are in a really good position now to pounce and if they can maintain the form they have shown up to now, they can challenge for those top four positions. It’s certainly not beyond them.
“Roberto came in at the start of the season and said that it was a chance to get in amongst those top four positions. One or two in the media raised their eyebrows and thought probably not but now they are starting to jump on the bandwagon that there is a real chance Everton can do it this season.”
Once Sunday’s game against Spurs is out of the way, two thirds of the Premier League season will have been completed.
Everton’s run-in – the final three home matches, in fact - includes visits from Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City.
While this may have been considered a tricky final month when the fixture schedule was announced last June, Kilbane believes it now works in Everton’s favour to be playing against teams in and around them at the top at the business stage of the season.
“Everton have proved that they can compete and outplay teams at the top,” added the 37-year-old. “The only thing from my point of view is that when you have got these teams in such a short space of time it’s about getting the players right and, as Roberto will surely say, getting them prepared mentally.
“But I don’t see any reason why, if they are in and around those top four positions, why they can’t maintain it until the end of the season.”