Rafa BenÝtez: Press Conference before Burnley



How serious is the injury to Seamus Coleman and when is he likely to be available?

It is not very bad to be honest. I have been told that he can be available for Monday.

Is James Rodríguez match fit now and is he likely to be involved against Burnley as well?

He’s training with the team. Obviously, we have been talking about his future as we had some clubs interested [in signing him]. However, he’s still here and is training with the rest of his teammates. Match fitness means he has to play games and has to play them in a row, so I think at the moment he’s a little bit behind the others.

What happened with James’ proposed move to Istanbul Basaksehir and were you happy at the moment for him to go?

I wasn’t involved in the conversations. I know there was some clubs interested but that’s it. If the offer was good then you know the financial fair play rules, the problem that we have with salaries and being limited with players that we can bring in. It was important for us to create some space for other players, we couldn’t do it and now we have to manage that.

Where does he fit into your plans now and where is he best suited to for the system you’re using at the moment?

Obviously, the team is doing well. The players, they understand what we want to do so he has to understand that. Then we have to try to bring the best from each player. In this case, he has to adapt to the team and we will try and get the best from everyone.

How happy were you with the business that you were able to do on deadline day? You were able to bring Solomon Rondon in and will he be involved against Burnley as well?

It’s always a tricky question at the end of a transfer window. I’m really happy with the players that we have brought in because they were the players we needed and they know what we are looking for and the commitment of these players is very clear for everyone to see. Rondon and all the others we have signed, they know what we want, what the fans want here, and they know how we have to work to ensure that we can be successful. Then, apart from that we didn’t spend a lot of money, but we had some good signings. Could it be better? Yes, because if you had more money you could do it but the financial fair play rules were killing us in this window. Hopefully in the next window it will be different but I’m really pleased because the players that we have brought are the players that we needed. Maybe we needed more players in some positions but this is what we could do so I think we did quite well.

Was the frustration that you were unable to get a right-back in and how big a possibility was it do get Donny van de Beek on deadline day as well?

Van de Beek was a name mentioned at the end of the window. I didn’t think it was easy for us. It was a name that in the last couple of days that all the agents threw at us. A good player for sure but I don’t think we had too many chances [to sign him]. In terms of the right-back position, we were looking for different options and I was very clear from day one that we couldn’t find what we were looking for. Jonjoe Kenny was an option. When we were in the market signing some players, I wanted to be sure that we have the backup, the players had experience in the Premier League and that they could perform in the majority of the games.

Looking ahead to Monday, what do you see as Burnley’s biggest threat and continuing with the transfer theme, what chance was there that Dwight McNeil could have been wearing an Everton shirt on Monday night?

The team is a strong team. Physically very strong. They know each other really well, they know the manager, how they want to play, the style, the strikers are strong and good in the air. McNeil has a good left, good deliveries. All these players, they know each other for a while, and they know how they play so it’s a very dangerous team to play against. But okay we have confidence, and we will try to be sure that we do well. In terms of players, there were too many names in the transfer window and then you never know how close you are to sign one of them. So, at the moment he will be in the other team and hopefully he has a bad day [on Monday] and after he has a great season.

Your team are sixth in the table. How happy are you with what you’ve seen from your squad so far this season?

I’m really pleased. Like I said before, the team spirit is really good, the commitment, the way that we are playing, we are scoring goals, getting clean sheet the last matchday. A lot of positives. It’s still too early because I think we have to expect even more from these group of players because they have the quality and the right mentality. I think they will be better, but at the moment I’m really pleased with them.

What do you expect and demand from your squad this season?

I was expecting something similar. In football sometimes the approach of the players, the commitment, the desire, the way that you play is good enough but still you cannot get the result that you’re looking for. We are fine so I was expecting something similar in terms of commitment. I’m not unhappy but I am expecting better things, better play and more exciting games because the group can do it.

Sean Dyche is currently the longest serving manager in the Premier League. Do you hope to be at Everton for 10 years as well?

Yes, why not. That would mean that we are successful, and I am happy. I’m sure if I were to stay here for 10 years is because the owners will be happy and support me and the fans would be happy too. Hopefully our friends in the press will be happy too. Normally, when you stay a long time in a club, it means that you are doing things right so if I stay for a long time then maybe we are winning some trophies and it will be fine for everyone.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin also has scored in three of his first games for Everton this season. How impressed have you been with his form?

He’s doing well but he is a player that you are still expecting more. Why? Because he wasn’t fully fit, he was making an effort to be on the pitch, he’s been training with pain. I’m really happy to see him trying in the training sessions even when he’s not fully fit. That is the reason why I’m expecting even more. I know we can talk about strikers and goals but I think he has contribution to the team in terms of effort, assists and goals. It has to be great, it has to be really good this year and I can see him happy so I’m convinced he will do it.

It’s been two weeks since the last Premier League game, have you got any other injury updates? Maybe on Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey?

The majority of the players are fine. We have two or three issues, but Yerry Mina is training already and Ben [Godfrey] is training. As I said before, Seamus [Coleman] will be available so a majority of them are fine. Delph has the problem with the shoulder, that is longer term. The others are coming back. Tom Davies also is very close. I think we are in a good situation at the moment
Has James demonstrated his commitment to Everton to you?

I have seen what was going on at the end of last season and what is going on this season with some social media comments - from the fans and from him - it was not easy because he was available in the transfer window. Now we just have the Middle East window open it is not easy and I think he has realised that he has to improve in a lot of areas. He has to focus and show his commitment - that is what he is trying to do. If he stays with us then it is good news for us. He can give us something more. We don’t have any doubt about his quality but as manager, I have to be sure that we have players playing 90 minutes at the intensity we are looking for and with the quality they have.

If a good offer had come in for James, you would’ve let him go?

It is always up to the player. In the end, he has the final decision. Some markets are open, we had some problems with Financial Fair Play rules so we need to consider any option and see what happens.

What will James bring? Is that still something you want in your team?

Each player has these characteristics and in some games, he can maybe make a difference. If James stays with us we need to find the right games for him but he has to show his commitment and desire which is something his teammates, the fans and us as staff are expecting from him. If everything is fine then he can make a contribution to the team.

You have worked with Rondon twice before - what are the qualities you like about him?

When we signed him we were looking for a striker who could hold the ball, be good in the air and make a contribution to the team both in attacking and defences scenarios. We were really pleased with him. We went to China with a different kind of project - a foreign player in the Chinese league can make a big, big difference and he was doing really well for us. We were really happy with his commitment and he is very professional. When we looked at our options, considering the market and the Fair Play rules, it was not a difficult decision. To come to Everton which is a Club that is growing was not very difficult. He was happy to change, come here and give us what we are expecting from him. He will fight at the top with the centre backs, link play, give players time and score goals. He is someone who will give everything for the team.

How important was it to get someone who is used to playing in the Premier League?

When we started in the transfer window we were looking for big names who make a difference and have an impact. It is not easy to attract these players - especially with the conditions that we had. I knew some players could be good in the Premier League because they knew the league, had experience and Salomon was one of these players. I said in my conversation with Salomon that I didn’t think it would be easy but if there is a chance I am sure he could do a job for us. He knows he is coming to challenge and compete for a position. He knows he is starting behind Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison but is very competitive and that this competition is something that has to be good for us. If the other strikers aren’t doing well, he can be there pushing to ensure he is a great addition for us.

You’ve faced a number of different styles of play already. Is this what is exciting about the Premier League…the fact it’s a different test each week?

With the experience in Italy and Spain you play against different styles each week and they change the system three or four times during each game! We are used to having these challenges and adapting to them. This year is obviously a great opportunity for me to improve because you have to adapt your team. I am happy with that because we are doing well at the moment.

There are some issues with Brazilian internationals at the moment. What is the latest with Richarlison at the minute? 

We are in a much better position than anyone because when we allowed him to go to the Olympic Games we were in contact with them and we told them that it was a complicated situation for us. We could understand how important the Olympics games were for their nation. We have a very good relationship with them, they understand and Richarlison wasn’t an issue.

When you say the next window will be better - do you mean January or next summer?

I was not expecting it at the beginning because I thought maybe sell some players and do well in the transfer window. We had to adapt quickly in this one to do well so I am really pleased with that. When I say the next window, hopefully, that will be January if necessary. If we are doing so well that we don’t need anyone in January then everyone will be happy here, but you never know. We have to start working now to improve the squad on the pitch and then bring in players where we can.