Rafael Benitez has set out his determination to bring a winning mentality and deliver success for Everton – and says the Blues’ ambition to compete with the top teams in the country was key in his desire to join the Club.
Benitez, who has won major trophies in Spain, England and Italy during a distinguished career, also promised he will “fight for Everton” after signing a three-year contract as the Club’s new manager.
The Spaniard added he is convinced he has joined a Club where foundations are in place for an exciting future, highlighting the Blues’ plans to move to a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock and the Board’s unstinting hunger to drive Everton forward.
Speaking to evertontv in his first interview as Everton boss, Benitez said: “You can see the ambition is there. This club is growing.
“For me, it is about bringing the winning mentality, being competitive, so everything is in place on the pitch and off the pitch.
“I love the passion of the people behind the Club. I know the city, I know Scousers, I know what it means for every fan here to compete and to have the chance to win. To come to Everton is something that means a lot, for sure.
“You can see the ambition of the owner, of the Board, everybody wants to be better and to go to the new stadium with a massive boost.
“I like to compete. I like to win. I came from the academy at Real Madrid [as a young player and coach], and the winning mentality is already there.
“We [myself and my coaching staff] have won 13 titles because we have this mentality and I still want to win.
“And I have come to Everton because I liked the idea to be competitive again – and to have the chance to compete in every game, to compete against anyone.”
A renowned tactician and motivator, Benitez has described his hunger to shape an Everton side which makes supporters proud – and underlined the importance of the fans’ backing in making Goodison Park a fortress again.
“All my life has been working hard, trying to be successful, and I was lucky enough to be successful in different countries,” he added.
“I will try to do that with my experience, and the knowledge of the city, the fans and the Premier League.
“If you have very good players, it is about managing them. If you have to improve your players, you have to do that and at the same time bring some additions that will give the team more quality - but also the right mentality.
“You want players with the right character, so you can be sure everybody has the same idea to go onto the pitch to give everything. That is what the fans are expecting. We need the fans behind the team and I think they will be.”
Benitez’s managerial career includes a six-year spell at Everton’s city rivals, Liverpool FC.
Addressing comments about Everton made in 2007 when in charge of the Anfield club, Benitez explained: “I have been in Madrid, Naples, Valencia, Tenerife, Extremadura and Liverpool.
“Every single club I was there, I was fighting for them. If you analyse things in the context, what you are expecting from your manager is to fight for your club, and I will do that.
“I am here, I will fight for my club, I will try to win every single game, and it doesn’t matter who the opponents are, or the rivals. It is something you have to do, it is your nature, that you have to try to do your best.
“And why a lot of fans in a lot of these cities love me is because I was giving everything for them. If you analyse this in the context, then it is very clear I will do the same for Everton.”
Benitez confirmed Duncan Ferguson will be an important part of his backroom team.
He outlined how the legend’s deep connection with the Club – as well as his vast knowledge of the players and staff – will make him an invaluable asset.
“I think Duncan will be fundamental for us,” Benitez said. “He knows the Club, the knows the fans, he knows the mentality.
“He can work with us [the coaching staff]. We can learn from him and he can learn from us, with the experience we have in different countries and leagues.”
Benitez also discussed the relationship he will have with Director of Football Marcel Brands. He says he is looking forward to working closely with the Dutchman and revealed discussions have already taken place regarding the Blues’ summer transfer plans.
“I worked in Spain for years with a Director of Football,” Benitez said.
“Marcel is a professional. I am a professional. We will work together, we will keep talking, having meetings to talk about the Club’s idea, what we have to do in the future, about players.
“The communication between us has to be fluent and we will be talking with each other all the time. I am really pleased with that [the structure].
“I have already been in contact with him. I have the plan [for Everton’s summer transfer business].”