Rafa Benitez believes his side have already learnt a lot after their “strange” pre-season defeat to Manchester United.
Rafa Benitez said “I think this game was strange because I don’t think it was so bad, the final score was too much for me. Obviously we have been improving. I’ve said so many times, this players train really well and then they are keen to learn. We have improved as a team, we are stronger and more solid. But we will play against a great team, so you never know what can happen. At least we know we can compete and we can get three points. That’s what we are looking for. To be fair, it’s not really the best to lose a game in the way that we lost. You can learn from any game, but normally you learn more from when you lose because everyone is trying to analyse what’s going on. I try to do that even when we win. To lose this game, we realised there still was a lot of things we had to improve at this time. Also, it maybe gave me the opportunity to tell the players we cannot relax, because you see what can happen. Maybe we can use it as a positive thing for the next game.”
Everton head into this weekend’s match on the same amount of points as their opponents thanks to a promising start to the Premier League season, losing just once in six matches. Benitez has explained where he particularly thinks his side have improved over the opening to this campaign, and believes each player can still add more to their individual games.
Rafa Benitez said “I think our understanding in terms of tactics and everything that we want to do. The way that we coach players, we try to make them think to understand the game and why we are doing this or that. If they understand that, it takes some time, they can make better decisions on the pitch. When I say that this team has plenty of room for improvement, it’s because we are still working really hard with these things. The players know that we can improve little details for each one that will be massive for the group.”
Manchester United will be without Harry Maguire for Saturday afternoon’s game, but could potentially welcome Luke Shaw back to their setup. Meanwhile, Everton will be without a number of key players – including Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, Seamus Coleman and Andre Gomes. So, while Benitez knows there is a chance for his side to make a statement with a strong result this weekend, he is also aware that it won’t be an easy task.
Rafa Benitez said “Obviously it will be an opportunity, but we cannot forget we have some issues with injuries and key players. We are not at the level maybe that we can be in a few months. We have players coming back from injuries and if we continue working the way we are now, I think we can be a much better team. It doesn’t mean we will not go there with the idea to get three points, we will. I have a lot of confidence in this group of players. But we are missing some key players. If you talk about any top side, as soon as they are missing one big name, it’s talked about. For us, it’s even more important. When we are missing one or two the team has some issues, but still we have confidence we can do well.”
Everton will be looking for their first victory at Old Trafford since 2013, and only their second win at the stadium in 29 years, when they line up against United on Saturday. And Benitez wants his side to play with the confidence they have already shown at stages throughout 2021/22 so far.
Rafa Benitez said “Every year is different, every season is different. What I want to be sure is that our team will go there with confidence to get a result. Why can’t many teams win there? Because they have a very good team, very good players, a great atmosphere. It’s not easy for anyone when you play against a top side. For us, it’s to be sure we go there with the belief that we can do it, and with confidence to play in the way we have been playing to be sure we can give an extra push. If not, it will be very difficult to get something there.”
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