Baines: Onus Now On The Players

Leighton Baines insists the onus now falls on Everton’s “good mix” of players to sustain the feel-good factor around the Club.

Baines is bidding to win his first piece of silverware with the Blues in what will be his 11th campaign at Goodison Park.

The left-back, who skippered the team and scored the only goal in Thursday’s Europa League triumph over MFK Ružomberok, watched on excitedly as Ronald Koeman embarked on a summer recruitment drive.

But he is keen to emphasise that the success of Everton’s 2017/18 campaign will ultimately be measured by the side’s results on the pitch.

“It is exciting to be a part of it, as a player and a fan,” said Baines. “It is easy as a player to roll with things and not pause to see what is happening.

“Sometimes it is nice to observe everything that is happening and think, ‘wow, this is really good… this is a good time’.

“But, although it is an exciting time now, we have to do it on the pitch. That is what we are working towards.

“We have a lot of new players, and we are looking to get relationships going on the pitch and in the dressing room as quickly as possible - then translate that onto the pitch and get results.”

Boss Koeman has shopped at home and abroad, while simultaneously investing a huge deal of faith in the Blues’ young stars, and retaining a core of players who know the Club like the backs of their hands.

And Baines believes the manager’s eclectic approach to assembling a squad has enabled the development of a nicely balanced – and unified – dressing room.

He said: “We have a good mix. There is a group of lads who have been here and know what the Club is about, and others who have been around and played a lot of Premier League football.

“There are young lads coming through who are full of ability, enthusiasm and excitement – they bring something different and lift the energy levels.

“And now we have some foreign players who are new to the league. You would like to think the guys who have been here a while, and know the league, will help the new lads coming in.

“It is about trying to marry the thing together, and that is the manager’s job.”

As one of those players who knows Everton inside out - and somebody who has been involved in a few near misses down the years - Baines is determined to be part of a Blues team that breaks a trophy duck which stretches back to 1995.

“That is the ultimate goal,” said Baines. “It is what the manager has come here to do, to push us up a level.

“During my time here we have come close a few times: semi-finals and finals, and a couple of trips to Wembley, but we have just fallen at the final hurdle.

“It would mean a great deal to all of us. That is the objective as part of this project the manager has come and taken on with the new owner.

“They are the objectives we will work towards. We understand the task is tough and everybody else is spending money as well.

“We have a bit of gap to bridge but we are working on it and it is all positive.”

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