Rafa BenÝtez: Press Conference before Norwich


If you talk about this time. This time is a special time, difficult time because it’s a short-term problem. We have the two strikers who used to score goals last year not available now, but we have to think about the whole season.

We cannot think about just two or three games. We are in a good position and I quite optimistic that we will stay close to the top for a long time because we will improve every week.

Do we have a short-term problem? Yes and we need to find short term solutions but at the same time we have to think about the rest of the season and the future of the Club.

Was the thought to keep him [James Rodriguez] until at least January because we can see how the squad gets depleted by injuries relatively quickly.

Yes, but it is not easy to find good offers when you want. You have to manage the offers when they are there and that was the time. So, we couldn’t find the right ones before and that was the right one for him. He’s happy with that and we have to do it because I would say we have to maximise our resources and we have to be sure that the long-term future of the Club is protected.

Is it possible to add to this squad now? There has been the link with Serge Aurier and we know that you’ve been in the market for a right-back. Is that a possibility?

I don’t see a clear option with that because again I would say we have to think about the future, not just the short-term. Now we need to find solutions, but we have to be sure that the solutions are not just for a couple of months, it’s for the rest of the season and the next years.

What did the League Cup exit tell you about your squad at the moment?

I think it’s a little bit unfair because I think the second half we were much better, we had the chances but I will say again, you have the top two scorers of the team not available and then you have to overload the players and demand more from them.

It’s not easy but we were really upset because it was an opportunity to do well and progress in the competition but at the same time, you have to move forward.

The main thing is to be sure that the players available can be ready for the game against Norwich and we can get three points and start thinking about the next one.

It will be like that, but I will say again it’s an issue now with some other players not available and we have to manage. That’s it.

On top of that, has Tuesday night maybe helped decide on a plan for what you want to do in the January transfer window when it comes to strengthening again.

No, I think the idea and plan was very clear before. We couldn’t do it for different reasons. So, when I came we knew exactly what we were looking for.

We were looking for wingers and replacements for some positions so I can read the newspapers, I can watch the TV but especially the local newspapers and I know what the fans think and what they were thinking before.

We will try to manage things in a professional way and at the same time bring what we needed. We could do it in some positions and we couldn’t do it in another position.

Hopefully we can ready for the next transfer window and we can improve the squad a little bit.

The competition is always good so we will try to bring in some players that they can push and everyone will be a little bit better.

As you say Rafa, overall it has been a very good start to the season so just how important is Saturday in terms of getting things back on track once again?

Yes, it’s really important for us.

I said before, I’m quite pleased with everything. The attitude of the players, the way that we were playing. Especially at home I think the fans have appreciated the commitment of the players, the intensity, the offensive football that we were doing.

I want to see that but at the same time I will say Norwich is more dangerous than people think because they are a good team, they’ve been promoted twice [in recent years] playing good football and they will do the same.

They can make mistakes but they can still be a nightmare.

Hopefully we can play at the same level and with the same intensity that we have done in the last games at home, we can beat them without conceding and not suffer a little bit.

How is Richarlison? Is he available?

No, he’s not available but he’s getting better.

The two strikers are not available so we have to be sure that the people around, the wingers, the defenders if necessary, Rondon, all the players that could be there in the final third, they are capable to score goals.

We have done so with different players. Maybe someone will ask about Rondon but it’s a question of time for him. Nobody can be four months without playing football, training at home with the COVID and all these things, and after expecting to score three goals in every game.

He has to improve his fitness and he will also give us goals. He was great with us at Newcastle, he was great for us at Dalian in China and it’s just a question of time.

Apart from the wingers, as I say midfielders or defenders. We need goals from anyone so it doesn’t matter [who].

Is Rondon doing extra work at the moment just to get up to speed and what is he doing?

He’s training really well. His commitment and his passion is there. You can see he is fighting in every game.

We have had players with COVID and I remember talking to them about when they had it. When you have it, you stay at home isolated, train on your bike and things like that. It’s impossible to have match fitness after four months.

You need some time and he will do well.

Is he going through a mini preseason?

Not really because you have to play games. We were not expecting to play him when have Richarlison injured so we have to throw him to the arena and that’s it.

I remember when he played his first game with Newcastle United it was the same.

He was not fully fit but we had to play him so the perception from our side is ‘oh, he’s not fit’ we knew that but he will be better because he is training really well.

Is the likes of Richalison, Calvert-Lewin and Seamus Coleman likely to be available for their nations next international window?

No chance. They will not be available. I’m about 100 per cent sure.

After those two defeats in a week, is there a risk of overreact from the fans and media alike after what you have mentioned about it being a pretty good start to the season?

It has been really good. Also, not just the results at the end, it was the way we were playing, the way that we were reacting. I think the fans appreciate that.

It was more of an Everton style that we were doing and then what we have to do is be sure that we are ambitious and continue with this style and try to improve.

I’m 100 per cent convinced that we will continue improving because we used to do it in all of my life as a coach. The teams are improving and then I think they appreciate what we are trying to do.

It’s just a question of finding a solution to these issues with this month with the international break that can help to recover players.

I’m sure little by little we can continue being stronger and maybe even a little bit stronger.

When you talk about the Everton style, how much closer do you think the players are to adapting to that style that you were referring to?

I think that they did it in the first games and the fans appreciated that. It’s still a team that we are building that we are trying to improve a lot of things. I’m really pleased with the attitude but there are so many things we can improve and will improve.

For you personally, do you feel like you are winning the fans over with every week that passes by?

I think the fans are quite happy with the first games. We were disappointing for nine minutes against Aston Villa and the penalty shootout the other day but that is part of the season, part of the football that you have some good games and then some that are not so good.

Overall, I think they are happy and what are they expecting? Commitment? Passion? They have that.

How much potential do you think Demarai Gray has to fulfil?

I have said about the team, but there are some players and especially him. The only issue we have now is that some of these players are playing too many games and too many minutes with intensity. We can’t give them a rest because other players aren’t available. We have to be careful with that, but in terms of his potential, he has great potential.

How much better are Norwich as a side than the last time you saw them in the Premier League?

Yes, I told my players today that they are a team that has been promoted twice, doing well and playing good football. They were relegated playing the same style so it’s an advantage for them because they know how they want to play. They will keep their style and they will try to be a little bit stronger in defence so it will be a tough game. Nobody can expect there to be easy games in the Premier League. They are a good team but they are in a bad position, struggling with confidence but they will be dangerous for sure.

With James Rodríguez leaving, does that mean you have more funds in January?

Yes, I think so. I had that conversation yesterday with Mr Moshiri and we are lucky enough to have owners who want to spend money. It is about making sure we can do it in the right way but they are very keen to spend money and improve the team. Then we need to find the right kind of player - who can adapt to the Premier League and bring quality which will improve the level of the team. That is a difficult thing to find this balance. We want to spend money but at the same time they to be good players in England, the Premier League and for Everton Football Club.

What are your thoughts on Arsene Wenger’s plans to change the football scheduled?

It will be interesting to know exactly all the details. My first impression with international football is that there are too many games and they call them “nothing games". When you play against a country that you can beat 5-0 or 10-0, the only thing you are doing is wasting time and risking your players travelling around the world. So, for me, too many international games. We have to be careful with that because it is the clubs who are paying the players and they have to perform in their leagues and at their maximum level. When you have to qualify for the EUROS, and when you have to qualify for the World Cup, maybe 60% of the games mean nothing because you will win. You have to less games that are more competitive and more intense.

What do you think of the idea of having a World Cup every two years?

I think we have too many international games, so you know my idea.

What are your thoughts on heading in football and the effects of that?

You can follow the guidelines, so that isn’t an issue. The balls are different now to what they were in the past. The game is also different - you play it more on the floor, and there’s a focus on passing.


I will not say his experience is helping me, I will say his experience and behaviour is helping the young players and the rest of his teammates.

He is very professional and training really well and competing really well.

He is an example of what you are looking for in a professional football player and I think the fans are really happy with him.

He is doing well in every single game. You play him in the cup or even a friendly and he gives everything.

Centre-halves and formation?

We are not changing the system too much. We play four at the back and changed to five because we wanted to be strong in the middle against two big lads from Burnley.

Overall, we are playing a similar system and the players are quite happy with that because we are doing well.

It is just to be sure they understand the role of each player in the system.
We are doing more or less the same things and even when we change the system, the style of football and way we want to play is similar.

Gomes and Gbamin?

… will not be available tomorrow.

Safe standing?

I think, after Hillsborough, everybody was thinking it was not a great idea. I don’t know the plan exactly, the details

We have to wait to see if it is a good idea or not. My idea at the moment is football is okay. The fans feel the passion the way it is now. It is more safe. But I don’t know exactly the idea or the details.

Drinking in stands?

I don’t drink, so I cannot have an opinion about that.