Monday, October 18, 2021

Rafa Benitez makes ‘controversial’ admission but insists he knows what Everton fans want

Rafa Benitez claims that while his appointment was “controversial”, he knows “what Evertonians want” although he dismissed suggestions he is better-suited to the role than predecessor Carlo Ancelotti.

Benitez takes his Everton side to Aston Villa on Saturday evening, unbeaten in his first five matches in charge.

Asked if he felt he was more-suited to the club than Ancelotti, the Spaniard replied: “No, I will say that a manager has to adapt, depending on what you have.

“Whether it’s when I’ve been at Napoli, Inter, Real Madrid, Newcastle United or Tenerife, each club is different and then you can do it.

“When I was with Newcastle, we were promoted and everybody said ‘you are favourites’ and we did it.

“At Tenerife, we were promoted and we were not favourites. Then you have some teams that are quite strong and still you can win.

“Depending on the players you have, depending on the atmosphere, depending on the role of the chairman, sometimes he supports you or not, all these things can change.”

Benitez added: “As a manager, a coach, you have to do your job, trying to improve your players, trying to create a good atmosphere, also with the fans. At Chelsea for example, we had the resources and then we did well.

“I think it is just different depending on the club but in this case I think because I know the city, I know what the Evertonians want and how they want their players to perform on the pitch, maybe it’s easier.

“The main thing for me is to come here and see a lot of players trying to do their best. Not players who were thinking ‘I’m very good’ or different characters who maybe don’t care.

“This group of players, they care, and they are working hard to try and improve every day.”

Fourth place Everton are one of a quartet of clubs with 10 points from the opening four Premier League matches, trailing early leaders Manchester United plus a couple of Benitez’s former clubs Chelsea and Liverpool on goal difference.

Given his previous employment with the Blues neighbours, the 61-year-old admitted that his crossing of Stanley Park made his arrival at Goodison less than straightforward, but he is pleased with the start his side have made.

He said: “It’s not easy when you change a manager at the beginning of the season and obviously, at the beginning, a little bit controversial, to expect that the team will do so well.

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“The connection between players, fans, is so good so we are really pleased with everything and hopefully it can continue in this way.

“We know it is the beginning of the season and it’s not easy to keep this momentum but we will try to do it.”

Asked if he felt he was now winning over sceptical elements of the Everton support base, Benitez replied: “It’s a question of emotions.

“When you talk about emotion it’s very difficult to change people but when you talk about being more rational and people that understand the game, and they can analyse what you are trying to do, I think the majority of these people, they know that we are doing well and we will try to do well until the end, even if we lose games, we will fight until the last minute of every game.

“Emotions are emotions so you cannot change someone if he doesn’t want to change but I will say again, the people making the analysis, they can see we are trying our best and they will be quite happy with that.”
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