For the second time in a week, Rafa Benitez has outlined his plans for a new season at Everton as the Spaniard tries to rekindle the inconsistent side which finished fourth in the Premier League last year. When news emerged that Benitez had been dismissed as Newcastle manager on Tuesday, it came after a poor start to the season in which the team would finish 11th after a run of four wins in 19 games.
Benitez took responsibility, but said that he is “confident” he can turn around the side, and that he is more concerned about Everton’s record than the 12 points lost on their opening day.
“They’ve just lost, because you know how it is. When you lose your first match, you are concentrating. Now we have to think about us.”
But can Benitez turn the side around?
“You know, I think that’s why a lot of people are asking the question, so why don’t I say we’re not sure. The problem was I think the intensity is too high for the players. And the intensity is high for the fans – we had a fantastic atmosphere. Normally, it’s the first half which has more intensity and you can only be sure if you have a good second half.”
The injuries to Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies, which ended with the pair spending Saturday on the bench, is what worries Benitez. But he is confident the replacements for Calvert-Lewin and Davies – Calum Chambers and Sandro Ramirez – will at least give the midfield a lift.
“I know Sandro is a great player, we are talking about a goal scorer, he will score goals, he is always going to score a goal. So I’m confident the team will be better and hopefully Calvert-Lewin will come back so that we can have better balance in the team. We are better with the balance and the system. Now it’s a question of what we do without those two guys. We are going to talk about that on Monday.”
Benitez will meet with Everton’s owners to clear the air on Monday. He has many supporters in the club’s boardroom, and he plans to continue his relationship with the club as an adviser, but thinks they have more pressing things to worry about.
“I will be here. We will talk about when I will be back. I have a good relationship with the owner, but I know they have a lot of problems in the city, but I will do what I think is best. I know I have a lot of messages and I think their media has given me a lot of things to think about, for the coach and what I can do. So I have to think about that and that is more important for me.”
The 62-year-old feels Everton has more depth than Newcastle. And although he acknowledges that that the first four games of the season were “a bit crazy” and a “rollercoaster” for the team, he believes that the quality of the players should eventually make them stronger.
“It was crazy, I had a great experience at Newcastle, but I decided to leave. It was not a decision made quickly, but I think that when you think of these players and you think of a good team, the name of Everton can bring different things for them. I don’t say it will be 100 percent like it was last year, but I think there is a lot of quality in the team and it will be better. I was realistic.”
Looking forward to meeting Everton’s new manager, he believes that Guus Hiddink will bring the experience to the club.
“I think he was unlucky last year, he was on the bench a lot because of that long list of coaches. When I watch him work, I think he is good, I know him from his coaching days, but I was watching his television show and I thought he was good. I thought it was okay. “