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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Hamish Dufton @efchamishdufton

Leighton Baines has said it’s the unique learning opportunity playing under Roberto Martinez that has seen Everton return European football to Goodison Park.

The left-back believes it is a testament to the Spaniard that the Blues have qualified for the Europa League in his first season as Toffees boss.

“I think we can all be quite happy with the way things have gone,” he said.
“Getting back in Europe is a step in the right direction and it’s what we all wanted. It’s what we probably deserve as well. We have played well enough to have earned that.

“We were clinging to the hope of reaching the Champions League so to have that in the first season under a new manager shows where we are at.”

And that is down to the Blues boss ensuring his players are constantly learning about the game.

Gareth Barry recently suggested that even at 33, Martinez was still broadening his education and Baines was quick to share those sentiments.

“I would definitely agree with Gareth,” he added. “As a group I think everyone will have learnt a lot from the manager.

“I have never worked under anyone like him. He is always introducing new things and he has so many ideas about how to play the game.

“I think we are all still learning and for someone like Gaz - with the experience he has - to have said what he did, you can get no higher praise than that.”

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