MATCH CENTRE

Benitez Reveals Key Everton Targets

Read the key points from Everton manager Rafa Benitez's pre-match press conference with newspaper journalists ahead of Monday night's clash at Wolves below.

As well as confirming defender Yerry Mina will miss the Molineux contest, Benitez discussed the main areas he feels the Blues can improve, the progress he is targeting in his maiden season in charge, and the potential of a talented Toffees Academy graduate...

On what Everton have been working on in training over the past week…

The first thing is to know the mistakes [made against Watford], but also to try to remember the good things we have done during the season.

With all the issues we have had this season, the team was doing well, showing the character and passion the fans were asking for.

The connection between fans and players was really good. We have to go back to that. We have to be sure we work as a team, together, and are a unit that has balance attacking and defending. We didn’t do it in the last game, but we have done this in a lot of games and we have to go back to that.

The players were really disappointed [after the Watford game] and we have been talking about the mistakes and how to approach the future.

Everybody knows we have to continue giving everything – which the players have been doing. We just have to make sure we manage special situations [during matches] in another way, so that we know how to react.

Rafa Benitez
We have to be sure we work as a team, together, and are a unit that has balance attacking and defending.


On the atmosphere within the squad…

It is not a question of mood. We are professionals and we have assume our responsibilities. Then we have to be sure, if we make mistakes, we try to solve the problems as quickly as possible.

It is not a question of atmosphere and confidence. The squad is fine in terms of the relationships with players and these things. It is more about the professional job we have to do.

We have to understand what is going on [during matches] and understand how to react. For example, for the third goal against Watford, we had conceded the second goal, we played long and we were out of position. It is nothing to do with the atmosphere or the mood or the confidence, it is about getting the adjustments of the positioning right.

It is more about getting the decision-making right, not the mood of the players.


On Everton’s targets this season…

The starting point is that this team finished 10th last year. We didn’t spend too much [in the transfer window] and we are missing some key and very important players. Considering all these things, still we are doing well.

Something that has happened in my teams [during my managerial career] is little by little we get better and better and we finish the season quite strong. I have confidence we can do it but I have said so many times: Rome was not built in one day.

We are trying to improve things in every department and little by little we will see that. Now, without important players, we have to manage – and we have done really well. We cannot forget about the games we won and the way we won.

We have to be sure we are working on the mentality, the approach and tactics to give the players the belief and confidence that will be crucial for us during the season.

On his approach to every Everton match…

I want to be sure, when we go into games, we are competitive. I don’t want to see a team that you never know what they will do, and then you lose confidence.

I want to be sure the team is strong enough mentally, tactically and physically and that we approach the game knowing we have the possibility to win.

It is a question of time but I have confidence we will do it. In the meantime, we have to change things, because if we do not we will be repeating the same mistakes. 

Rafa Benitez
I want to be sure the team is strong enough mentally, tactically and physically and that we approach the game knowing we have the possibility to win


On 18-year-old midfielder Tyler Onyango's readiness for First-Team action…

You have to manage a team with your experience. I was in the academy at Real Madrid and in charge of a lot of academies in different clubs.

I know what it means to be a young player and for them to go to the first team. Some of them, they are physically and mentally ready, and some need more time.

Tyler is a lad that has been injured for three or four months. He has the potential and he has to keep training and playing with his team [Everton Under-23s] and sometimes training with the First Team and we will decide when he is ready.

If you want a clear answer if he is ready, I think it is still a little bit early for him. But he has the potential and what we want is to manage his potential and not to send the player too early [to the First Team] if it is not necessary.

On Salomon Rondon’s start to his Everton career…

It is important to understand it is not about individuals, it is about the team – but I will tell you Salomon is in the top five runners in every game. That means his work-rate and commitment is there. It is the first thing.

He is a striker, so we would like to see him scoring goals, I will not deny that, but at the same time he is doing a job that maybe Demarai Gray, Andros Townsend, Anthony Gordon or Alex Iwobi can take advantage of.

You have to find the balance that is right for the team and if Salomon is working hard, I’m happy with that. He did a great job against Burnley, Norwich and Manchester United ­– when the team was winning, and drawing against United. Salomon is giving everything.

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