Rafa BenÝtez: Press Conference before West Ham



What impact could the Newcastle United takeover have on the rest of the Premier League?

It’s a tricky question, I was not expecting that. I have a very good relationship with the Newcastle United fans, with the city, everyone. I think it’s not fair on me to talk too much about that (the takeover). I’m the Everton manager now, I’m focused on that. I wish them all the best. There are so many things that we can talk about, and I prefer to stay away from that. I wish them all the best. Sorry about that.

In your mind, what chance was there for you to make a possible return to the side?

I can tell you, I have a lot of friends and they were asking me the same question. I had a lot of messages from people there, but from day one when I was talking with the board here, they didn’t need to worry about it. I decided to stay here, I’m really happy and it’s just about trying to improve everything I can here and focus.
Again, I wish them all the best but this time when I decide to stay here, I keep my word continue working here.

You said an eighth-placed finish would mean nothing to you, so this season what place finish would mean something to you?

What I wanted to say was I’m not thinking about average. I want to compete for something. That was my first idea when I decided to come here.
I said so many times, you have the owner’s ambition, the fans with ambition, a new stadium coming. What I want is for us not to be comfortable in the middle of the table. We have to be sure that we fight to be as high as possible. What I meant when I said eighth it was just to say a number, but I want to be sure that we can be as high as possible and that we can play in Europe or even higher than the Europa League for example. It’s not that I have a target, it’s just to be sure that we can compete and stay really high.

So how can you keep up the start that you have made against West Ham?

I said that the league is a marathon and we have to keep running until the end, but there are some moments that you play against teams that are more or less around your position [in the table]. It’s really important for the confidence that we know that they are good team, they’re doing well. They did well last year. They have a manager that knows us (the Club) really well so it’ll be tough but still it’s an important game that we can get three points. It would be really good for the confidence here.

You and David Moyes probably couldn’t have imagined that he would be back in the away dugout, and you would be the home manager at Goodison.

Yeah, maybe he wasn’t expecting that. Maybe I wasn’t expecting to see him on the other side but it’s like this. He’s doing a good job and hopefully we can do well, and the fans will be happy with Everton getting the three points.

Seems good news on Seamus Coleman and Alex Iwobi. What about the likes of Lucas Digne, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison?

Lucas [Digne] is fine. Richalison and Calvert-Lewin are closer but still not available for this game.

What about Yerry Mina? What’s his situation after returning from international duty?

Yerry [Mina] is coming back. He’s been playing a lot of games, a lot of minutes. Now I think he is travelling so hopefully he will be here. Everything is positive in terms of the feedback, but we will have to wait and see how he feels.

Any issues with Yerry with regards to quarantining?

No, I think he is following the protocols. He’s doing everything that he has to do to be sure that he is available so. The government has their protocols, so he’s been following that.

Gomes and Delph, are they available as well?

No. Still they are working and trying to be ready as soon as possible but they are still in this process, so they are not available.

How impressed are you that David Moyes has been able to puncture the top six with two different clubs, Everton of course, and last season West Ham?

I think it’s a good achievement. Obviously, he’s doing well and as you say, last year he did well. This year, he has a very strong team and they are playing in Europe.
It’s not easy when you have two competitions, but they are doing well at the moment. Hopefully, we can beat them and we will be a little bit ahead but either way, he’s doing a good job.

Given that experience, what would you say is the difference to a team that finds themselves within that top four, top six on a regular basis?

It’s sometimes complicated because these teams at the top. They continue at the top, they have more money, more money coming in from Europe, commercially. There is always an advantage for them, that is the reason why it is really important to go there, to be in this group and continue in this group because this is how you can guarantee more money and sign better players, and then you can improve facilities, everything. It is a positive circle if you are there and not too positive if you cannot be there. That is the reason why it is really important for us to be as close as possible, to have this experience to be there close and that’s when you can go through.

How difficult is it when you have more money? How much more careful do you need to be?

I haven’t had much money to spend throughout my career as a manager. Maybe at two clubs I had a little bit of money but normally not too much. I try to be careful - that is my way. We make mistakes like everyone, but normally you try to spend your money wisely in England. If you have a lot of money, you are capable to sign good players and be stronger, but when you have less money you can’t afford any mistakes. I have been in both positions, but normally in this position.

How nice is it that you’ve still been able to score goals without Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison?

The players need to realise that the team has to score goals - not just one player. If you rely on just one player it is easier for opponents. To have different players scoring goals means we have different possibilities and different options. I am happy with that because a lot of players are attacking, creating and scoring goals.

You’ve come from behind three times to get a point or more this season. How good is it to see the character in the squad?

I am disappointed to have conceded first, but of course, the reaction of the team has been quite good. That shows the mentality and character is there. It is something you can see as a positive for the rest of the season when you are in difficult situations and you can remember this time when the team reacted.

What have you made of Anthony Gordon’s contribution this season?

He has said in some interviews that he has to work hard - and that is the way. When you have the talent and the possibility to be a very good player, and if you understand that, then you have more possibilities. I am pleased with the way he is training and working - and hopefully, he can continue like that for the rest of the season, and he will be an important player for us.

Has the start to the season even frustrating with the stop-start nature due to the international break?

It is the same for everyone. As you say, you feel frustrated because you can’t carry on. Then you are waiting to see if you have any injuries or problems. It is not ideal for any manager, but it is what it is, and we have to make sure we manage every player, we manage the load of every session and then try to do our best. Modern football is like that. You play too many games, you have to travel everywhere, and it is quite demanding, but we are happy with that.

Thinking you need centre-back cover?

Not really, what I am thinking is in every training session to try to improve the players in each position.
At centre-back we have five names and we can use anyone – Ben Godfrey can play there, Mason can play there, Jarrad Branthwaite can play there.
It is to be sure everybody has a good level and if we need to use them they are available and can do well

Thinking you need to strengthen elsewhere?

It is too early to talk about that because until January we cannot do too much. But we know we have some positions we have to cover a little bit.
The way now is to be sure the players available are improving and ready if we need them.