Rafa BenÝtez: Press Conference before Hull City
Mykolenko and Patterson settling in?
Obviously we know both players well and we know the potential. The first training session was just for them to settle down. Yesterday in the training session was much better, there was more communication with their teammates. Both players have showed that they want to do well and they want to perform. Are they ready? We will see. Today we have another training session, and we will see how they feel. If you have to play them, they can play but in terms of fitness they have went 15 to 20 days without training so we have to consider all the aspects here.
Temptation to start them in FA Cup tie and team selected yet?
No, as I say we have another training session today. Maybe they can start, maybe one, maybe both. We just need to see how they train today, but as I said before they’ve been 15 days without training, so we have to consider if they are fit enough for an important game like this one.
Looking to sign two more players?
To be fair, we are open like every team to good players that could be available and could help the squad. They are not specifically focused on this or that. We have some ideas, we are working on these ideas and if we can find something that is interesting for us then okay we will try to do it.
Interested in a midfielder, Sean Longstaff in particular?
To be fair, I’m quite focused on the games so I try and concentrate on that. Other people are working on names and possible negotiations. We have different options; different names and we are working on that. This window is so complicated that you never know.
Players on the way out? Gbamin allowed to leave?
No, I didn’t say that. I have contact with him, with his agent. The point here is that people can talk but the reality is that if you want a player to go, and here we have experience of that, you have to have an offer. The player has to say yes, and the Club has to say yes. We don’t have anything like that.
A lot of clubs talk about ‘I’m interested in this player’ but after they don’t have any commitment in terms of obligation. We are considering everything, but at the moment there is nothing new in terms of players leaving or players coming.
Inevitable Lucas Digne will leave Everton this window?
I think it was very clear, so I want to ask a question to every fan or former players what Peter Reid will do or will say if a player goes and says that he doesn’t want to be there.
That’s it, simple.
Are you saying Lucas Digne doesn’t want to be at the Club?
I’ve had a couple of conversations with him. He told me what he thought. What do you expect the manager to do when a player is thinking about wanting to leave? I will say again, fans, former players, what will Peter Reid say if a player goes to the manager and says that he doesn’t want to be here. Simple.
Why was Digne named on the bench against Brighton?
Because as a manager you have a responsibility to try and do what is best for the Club and sometimes you pay for that.
Have there been any bids for Digne at this stage?
I will say to you that I would like to sign Haaland and Mbappe. I can do enquires but I have to commit myself. We need commitment, we don’t need enquiries.
No bids as of yet?
I am not in charge of the negotiations. When someone is asking, they have to commit themself. They have to say 'okay I will buy, I will pay or I will make an obligation'. People can talk and talk. I’m really pleased with Dominic [Calvert-Lewin], but if you bring me Mbappe then I would be happy too. But can I do it? I can make an enquiry and then you will say 'oh they are interested'.
How disappointed are you that it’s come to this?
I am a professional. Since my first day here I have tried to manage what the fans want. When you aren’t winning it becomes more difficult, but the reality is that we need players who want to be here. Talking about individual stats when the team finished 10th means nothing to me.
Has it had an Impact on the dressing room?
Not really. Everyone knows each other really well.
Importance of the FA Cup?
Every single game is massive for us. I know how important the FA Cup is for our fans. I will try to win and have a good run if it’s possible. It is the first one and it is an important one. I know about the history and the last trophy, so hopefully, we can do well. If we can win some games then we will have more confidence and it will be easier for us to approach the next games.
Why does Digne wants to leave?
I have no explanation. We are professionals. We are paid big money to do our job, and if someone isn’t happy then it is up to them to make a decision. We are paid big money and it is up to us to perform and be available. You have to put your interest behind your interest of the club - that is my feeling. The stats and priorities have changed and people think of themselves ahead of the team.
Has he put himself ahead of the team?
A team that finishes 10th and someone is worried about the stats - it changes nothing for me. I do not want to finish 10th. I would like to be in a much better position than at the moment. I am not stupid. I want to finish as high as possible and sure that Everton Football Club is growing and improving, and we’re creating a winning mentality for the future. It will take some time, but in the meantime, we need players who really want to be here. Peter Reid, what would he say if a player tells him he doesn’t want to be here? Would he be happy with that player? Would he support him? It’s what we have to consider. We want to grow and improve.
Were you in a position where you needed to sell to bring players in or could you buy players anyway?
The people on the Board are working hard, trying to find solutions to our situation and I think they're doing great. It's not that we have to sell to buy, so we are working hard on different options and I think that, if something is around that is good enough for us, we can do it. We are working on that.
How special was winning the FA Cup in 2006, compared to other achievements in your career?
To win any trophy is massive - it's not easy. Always when you're in the situations of semi-finals or finals, you ask your players how many times will be there... Not too many. If you are in a top side, maybe you have more chances, but if you are not you don't get too many opportunities to be in a final. It's really important to appreciate how difficult it is for us and for anyone to win a trophy, especially the FA Cup because it's a special trophy that is massive. I'm really proud of that. Hopefully we can do a good run and see where we are but the main thing is to create a winning mentality here - not just one year for one trophy, the idea is to be in that position as much as we can.
Moving in the right direction with the new signings you've made this month? Feel the two signings can have a positive impact in second half of the season?
The first thing is we have to be realistic. When you analyse the squad at the beginning and in the last years, then you look at what we are trying to do - we brought wingers because we knew we needed ammunition for Dominic and the fans appreciated that. Now, we are bringing full-backs that it seems like they were missing for a while, so we're bringing young full-backs who are bringing energy, desire and passion. Hopefully, they can give us something right now but we are not just thinking about right now, we are thinking about what we have to do for the future. If they come now and make an impact then I will be really pleased because we are in a difficult position in the table, but what we expect is that they will be here for maybe 10 years and they will be key players like Seamus Coleman has been all this time.
Any way back for Lucas or best for all parties for him to leave now?
It is football and it is very simple. If on the 31st January we finish the transfer window and he's here, okay we do what we have to do. At the moment, in his head, he has what he has and we have to deal with the players that want to be here.
Patterson has played for a big club in Rangers and the senior Scotland side. What does that say about his mentality?
I think it's important to understand that we are bringing young players but both players are competitive. Both players played at the maximum level [they could play at]. Then, when you have to make a decision in terms of Nathan Patterson, you are bringing a player that is used to competing for winning their league. Even if it's a young player who wasn't playing every game, he's also playing for the national team and he knows what rivalry means, he knows what it is to win derbies and things like that. I was joking with him and Vitalii about how can Vitalii improve his English when he's talking to a Scotsman?! But, seriously, he's someone who knows the league and what it means. What I said before - he has great potential and we are not thinking he can be the solution right now, hopefully he can be the solution right now but he is someone who is coming to help and do well in the future years here.
How much have you enjoyed Anthony Gordon’s progression?
When I was talking about young players in the past, I was explaining about my experience with young players. I was in the Academy at Real Madrid for years…. You have a lot of talents, but not too many of them reach the top level. Why? Because the environment is quite complicated now. If they score one, everybody says they are the new star and sometimes they lose their focus. From day one, Anthony realised he was a talent but was not performing at the level he could perform. He was working hard on his stamina, he worked well. The talent is there, so we are pleased because he is developing little by little. Especially, and hopefully you can ask me the same question in three months’ time – and we will have the same answer – mentally, he is getting stronger, which is a good thing. He knows he has to develop, he has to keep working hard. That is the best way for him to be a star – already he is a good player, but a star here at Everton Football Club.
Hull have only played once in past three weeks – how hard to prepare to play them?
It is the FA Cup and it is always difficult to play against anyone. We have experience of what it means for [lower league] teams to play against Premier League sides. It will be tough, for sure, but we are ready. I was really pleased with the training session yesterday. The players were pushing and working hard. Mentally, we are ready. We will see what happens on the pitch, because it is football. The reality is the players realise after the Brighton game we have to perform and do well.
How much do you like the FA Cup?
I enjoy a lot to win any trophy. But always it is one game at a time. We have to win tomorrow and then we can think about the next one. It is what I say so many times experience is telling you to stay calm, keep your ambition, but be realistic. We have to perform tomorrow and do well, and if we go through, it is one step and then we’ll think about the next one.
If Lucas Digne has told you he doesn’t want to play for the club, how does that effect his valuation in the market?
As a manager, you have to do the best for your club – and sometimes it is against you. We knew already, we are trying to manage the situation, we have interest, but nothing concrete. Now we are getting closer to the end of the transfer window and you have manage…but what I cannot do is bring in players who want to be here and then give priority to players that are not really interested. For me, the Club is ahead of any player, any manager – and we have to do what we have to do.
Is there a valuation on Lucas?
The valuation is clear. We know Lucas is a good player, so I don’t have any doubt about that. The question is what the team needs – or what the team needed, and we didn’t have that. When the manager is asking…when you are in a difficult situation when you do not have your strikers when you are not scoring goals – the team has to do something and every player has to be there for the task. If you are not thinking about that, the priority is you and not the team. That is the reason why we have to find solutions.