Rafa BenÝtez: Press Conference before Manchester City



Injury update on Yerry Mina, Gomes & Calvert-Lewin?

All of them are progressing well but not ready yet. The squad is fine, so the training sessions have been quite intense, so everybody was quite positive. We know that we will be playing against a good team, but we are confident that we can do well.

Our last game against Tottenham the team showed character with the right mentality and that’s what we have to do in every game.

This is likely the most difficult game of the season, away to the reigning champions. Everybody needs to be up for it?

Sometimes you can manage the injuries but when you have an issue with the muscle, a knee injury, players who have had injuries in the past and they could have new injuries. It is important to try to bring them back as soon as possible but at the same time make sure it is safe to do so. This is what we have to do now.

The team started the season really well. We miss some players and we have some issues. Hopefully, these players coming back will give us a boost and we will have a team that is stronger for the first part of the season but especially for the second part.

A win at the Etihad would be huge. Does your team need results to build confidence?

Yeah, I think all the teams in the world need to get results to get some confidence. For us the fact that we did well in the last game in terms of the intensity and commitment of the players that was there until the last minute. For me, that was quite positive and we did that in a lot of games, especially at Goodison Park we did really well.
I expect that the team can get a result and then if this is the first one [of a winning run] then it would be easy for me to motivate the players for the next games.

When on a poor run of form, do you want to change your tactics?

We have changed a lot of things depending on the games. We adapt certain things but at the end of the day you have a squad and you cannot invent anything.
You have to manage the players that you have and have to try to make sure that you’re getting the best out of the players available. That’s what we’re trying to do.

The last game against Tottenham, we changed a little bit. If we need to change against Manchester City, we will do it. Trying to be sure that the players that we have now available, that they can give us 100 per cent.

Has Delph got a big role to play in Sunday’s game?

I hope so. I think he has the right mentality and the right attitude. He wants to play every game. I have to stop him in the training sessions because he's pushing very hard so that is the right attitude that you are expecting from any player.

We have seen situations in the past that maybe we’re giving up too early and then we have to be sure that we cannot do that.We did it this year against Southampton, we did it against Burnley, against a lot of teams this year. We saw the mentality, that character that we're looking for and hopefully we can keep these things like we did against Tottenham for the rest of the season.

Gerrard back in the Premier League. How do you think he’ll get on?

It’s always bad to see a manager lose his job and also good to see a new manager so I wish him all the best apart from our game [against Aston Villa] for sure. He will have plenty of time to show his level and hopefully we can do well against them and then we can show them our level too.

Time frame for injured players?

Each one is different. They are getting better, but we have to be 100 per cent sure that they are fine. [Abdoulaye] Doucoure has a metatarsal injury, so that is something that has a certain time because it needs to heal. It will be another one or two weeks maximum if he doesn’t have any problems. With Dominic, it will be another two-three weeks. He is progressing well but still needs some time.

Challenge City pose without playing a striker?

It doesn’t matter what system they play. They have so many good players on the pitch that they can play without wingers or strikers, and they would still be very dangerous. We are talking about one of the biggest teams - when it comes to spending - in the world now. They play very good football and spend a lot of money on very good players. They have a good manager so they have everything to be successful. It doesn’t matter what system they play.

About the current form of the team…

We aren’t happy when we aren’t winning. I have a lot of confidence in the team, and I have a lot of confidence in the staff. We will do better. When we have all the players available we can start winning games. We have plenty of time to do well and I am convinced we will do well - especially in the second part of the league. As I say, these players who have been injured will be available and it will be easier for me to make a decision on systems and changing something during the game. It’s always easier for a manager when you have more players with the quality available.

Did you always think Gerrard would make a good manager when you were at Liverpool?

He was a great player. Hopefully, he will be a good manager, but hopefully, we can win against them.

Danny Donachie leaving?

Yes, I can confirm that. We are looking to manage the department in another way so I wish Danny all the best.

Is that because of Everton’s injury record this season?

No, it is just to be sure. I said before that we want to improve every department and look at some things a little different. That’s it, nothing more.

Progress along the road of change?

I have been impressed with the attitude of the staff since I joined. Everyone is willing to help and improve things. Different managers have different visions. The main thing for me is communication. We are talking with everyone from different departments and I am happy with the things I am seeing at the moment, but hopefully, we can continue to adjust things little by little. We are progressing, and I am quite happy with that.

Today I was talking with the players about the first game against Southampton, the reaction of the team was really good. And against Burnley, the reaction was fantastic. I think the fans are clever and appreciate that. They can see this team working hard and the commitment of the players.

Still we have some issues we couldn’t manage – against Aston Villa for nine minutes, Watford for 13 minutes, we made mistakes and conceded goals and didn’t react.
It is something we have to improve. But Rome wasn’t built in one day. We have to go step by step. Hopefully, we can be a bit stronger mentally and the best way to do that is competing and winning games.

The second half against Wolves and game against Tottenham are examples of what we have seen in other games. The game against Brighton was another example of teamwork and the right mentality and we won the game. Burnley, Southampton, games when we conceded first and reacted, that is the kind of thing we want to see. The commitment of the players until the final minute, like we did against Tottenham.

What impact can Richarlison have?

The difference between Dominic and when we are playing Rondon or Richarlison up front changed the approach of the team We are trying to be sure he can be involved but it depends how much possession you can get. Playing against Manchester City, you won’t have too much possession. We have to be sure if he receives the ball it is the right passes or him to use his ability to make the difference. As a striker or winger he can be dangerous but we have to be sure we can supply him with good deliveries.

What role can Fabian Delph play?

What I saw from him at the beginning, everybody knows and he knows, we were thinking about replacing him. But he was training really well. I was really pleased in the way he was in every training session. I was quite pleased – but then he had the shoulder problem and we had to wait 10 weeks until he was available again. He came back and from day one in the training sessions showed his commitment and intensity. Also, he is quite vocal, he is trying to help his teammates, in terms of when you have to go to press. These types of players with experience and quality, if you can keep them, they can help the team if they have the right mentality. He is really desperate to play.

He can give us something with his experience and quality and with his desire to play he can be an example for everyone. If he can stay fit he will be a good addition for us.
He has experience of winning something and this mentality that can help younger players. If he keeps this mentality for a while I can see only positives for us.

Forthcoming run?

The Premier League is quite tough but my idea is very clear, one game at a time. It is not to talk about a game in one month with all the players available or without them. It is not the same if you win against Manchester City, the next game will be totally different. Football is a little bit emotional. When you are not winning, it seem everything is wrong. But it is not wrong. We have been very close in some of these games. We have to be sure we keep a team that is competitive. If we are like that, you never know what an happen in these games. Maybe we can have a surprise and win a couple of them in a row and then we can talk about different things in the next press conference.