Rafa BenÝtez: Press Conference before Watford


You seem to have a lot of injuries at the moment. Can you tell us what the situation with Dominic [Calvert-Lewin] is and when we are likely to see him again?

We have some issues but we are bringing, little by little, back some players. Hopefully we have more coming soon. Dominic has a problem we have to sort out. How long he will be out, we need to see. It depends on how he reacts to the treatment but we will not see him for four or five weeks, it could be, and we will see later on what is going on. I don’t like to put a timeframe. I think it is important to see how he is improving and how he feels.

How frustrating is that for him and you?

It is difficult to accept that and to manage. We are trying to be sure we can improve every department. We brought in Cristian Fernandez as a rehabilitation coach to be sure we can help the department with these kind of things.

Has Richarlison got a chance to playing?

Richarlison has been training, he has been okay. Obviously, the match fitness is an issue. But he is happy and he is available.

Despite all those issues, you are still eighth. How do you reflect on your start?

I think it has been good. The top scorers have not been available but still the team is in a good position, it is still fighting and creating chances. I think it is fine. It is a pity because the other day [against West Ham], we had chances and maybe a draw could be more fair, and then we would be in the top four. So, I am quite confident we will do well now and quite confident we will do well at the end of the season, which is the most important thing, in the last maybe 10 games.

You’re coming up against Claudio Ranieri on Saturday. Are you surprised he has come back and surprised Watford didn’t have that new manager bounce against Liverpool?

I know him for a long time and he always has energy and he loves football, so he has passion. It is not a surprise if he has energy that he can be in available and come to the Premier League, because he has a great record here. I am happy because someone with experience can give us something in the Premier League.

Your reaction to Steve Bruce leaving Newcastle?

My relationship with Newcastle United fans is fantastic, the relationship with the people in the city was very good. I have very good memories, so cannot say too much. At the same time, I don’t like to see any manager lose his job. My time there, the fans were really good with me but you don’t want to see anyone losing his job. That’s it.

Put people off managing – Arteta fears that?

Not for me at Newcastle or here at Everton. You have to accept in football, if you win everything is fine, if you lose, you can lose your job. It is something we have seen for many years in many places, not just here, in a lot of countries, it is like that.

Longevity – you and Ranieri, first game all the way back in 1998?

I don’t remember this meeting but I am telling you something you don’t know. I met him between 1993-1997, I don’t know exactly the year, I went to see him at Fiorentina where he was manager. His staff treated me really well. I am really pleased and have a good relationship with Claudio, because he treated me really well since this day and we were friends since then.

Not faced him often in intervening years?

We were in different countries, he replaced me at Valencia, again, I will say, a good relationship with him. Nothing to do with the games against each other. He is a very good professional and has passion and loves football and when you go to see someone and he treats you so well… he came to visit me later on at Liverpool… he is a very good manager and person and friend.

Big chances created compared to conceded. Table puts Everton fourth in the top five European leagues?

Really pleased it is a pity we lost the last game, it could be a little bit better. You can see we don’t have the strikers who were here last year. But the team is creating chances and scoring goals and not conceding, so it is a great compliment for the team, in the way we are working as a team.

How do you go about restoring the energy and drive when Abdoulaye Doucoure is going to be absent for a while?

We didn’t start the game well. They were passing the ball well while we were a little bit late to press and regain the ball. We were giving the ball away and we lost a little bit of confidence. We still had chances. We weren’t playing at the level we were used to, but we changed at half time and the team improved. Still, we had chances, but then we conceded. I agree that Doucoure is someone who has a lot of energy - how can we replace him with someone who has the same passion and energy? The main thing we have to be sure of is that they go onto the pitch and try to do their best for the team. I am sure the player who will play in his position will do it.

Yerry Mina is available to start again - he has had a good season so far, hasn’t he?

Yerry Mina played three full games with the national team and then came back and had to follow the COVID rules. He felt his hamstring the other day in training, so he will not be available. It is what we have to deal with now with so many trips. He is not going to be as important for this next game as you were hoping me to say, which is unfortunate.

How close is Lewis Dobbin is to starting?

It is around two meters closer to the touchline. He can start at any time. I am really pleased with him. He is training really well, and he is doing well. Rondon is getting fitter and Richarlison is available - we have options available. We don’t want him to play games and then when he’s not doing well just criticise him. He is close - how close? If we have a very difficult game, he can’t be the first choice if you have someone like Richarlison available. If it is an easy game then maybe he can. He will have his opportunities if he continues to work as he is now.

Is this an easy game?

If it is an easy game he will have more chances for sure.