Rafa Benitez said Everton paid the price for a lack of “precision” in the final third in Sunday’s 1-0 Premier League defeat at Brentford – and insisted to fans his team will continue showing “effort, intensity and fight” to swiftly improve results.
Ivan Toney’s 24th-minute penalty proved decisive in west London despite the Blues dominating for extended spells during the game.
Everton had 60 per cent possession and 14 shots to the home side’s six. The Toffees could not find a breakthrough, though, and attention now turns to Wednesday’s Merseyside derby showdown at Goodison Park.
“We are frustrated,” said Benitez. “We cannot complain about the effort of the players and the intensity they put in the game.
“They tried from the beginning until the end. We had a lot of crosses and a lot of shots.
“We couldn’t score and you can be disappointed like everyone, because obviously we don’t want to lose, but you can see the togetherness of the players and the way they were fighting until the last minute.
“The fans are expecting something more in terms of results but I think they appreciate the efforts of the players.
“The connection of the fans and players last year was not great. At the beginning this season, it was fantastic. To bring back this connection, the fans are expecting the players to give everything, and after to win games.
“You cannot blame any player because they were not giving everything. We have to ensure the team continue working in this way and hopefully we can be more precise in the final third and have better results.”
Salomon Rondon almost equalised just 84 seconds after Toney’s opener when he fired low at goal after a sharp turn, but the Venezuelan saw his effort well saved by Brentford stopper Alvaro Fernandez.
Rondon also had strong claims for a penalty waved away in the final stages of the first half after his shirt was pulled by Charlie Goode.
The vast majority of the second half was played in Brentford’s territory as Benitez’s team mounted consistent pressure.
Fernandez saved well from Alex Iwobi’s drive and Rondon saw a header flash wide. Livewire substitute Demarai Gray, meanwhile, flashed two teasing centres across the face of goal that were missing only a finishing touch.
Midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure impressed on his first appearance after several weeks out with a foot injury – and Everton will welcome Richarlison back for Wednesday’s derby clash after he missed the Brentford game through suspension.
Benitez added: “With the way the team was playing at the beginning [of the season], we were not expecting to have a run of results like we have had.
“We have been missing key players. In this game, we have Doucoure coming back so it is a little bit better.
“The team is giving everything on the pitch.
“I think it [Everton’s recent form] is a question of confidence and missing these players.
“You could see what we were capable to do at the beginning of the season. It is very clear the team can do it and if we have everyone available I think we will do it again.”