Rafa Benitez has outlined his plan to improve every department of the club to ensure Everton finally start seeing a return on their giant investment. And as an example of his vision, the Blues boss has explained why he appointed Cristian Fernandez this week to help improve the team’s dismal injury record. Benitez has made it clear that the £460m splurge on transfer fees under Farhad Moshiri has not produced anything like the result it should have done,
Rafa Benitez said: “When you see the money spent the club has to be in a much better position.”
Fernandez has arrived at Everton as the club’s new first-team rehabilitation coach at a point when the squad’s injury problems are piling up. This week has seen confirmation of a stress fracture for Abdoulaye Doucoure – “four weeks minimum” says Benitez – and the news that Dominic Calvert-Lewin has suffered a set-back in his recovery from a thigh problem. The Everton boss has been left “disappointed” by Calvert-Lewin’s re-injury and also revealed that Yerry Mina (hamstring) would not be available to face Watford at Goodison, on Saturday. Andre Gomes and Fabian Delph also remain sidelined. Benitez hopes the arrival of Fernandez will help improve recovery times and has revealed the changes made to the club’s medical team are part of club-wide review he performed when appointed as boss in the summer, designed to get 5-10% more from each department.
Rafa Benitez said: “One thing I want to be very clear is that I am trying to improve every single department. The fans, the club, the owners who have spent a lot of money, they are desperate to be competitive. They would like to see the team competing in every game throughout the season. I said in one press conference that eighth means nothing to me and that was taken as a positive view from the fans, but really I mean that. I don’t want to stay here and try to survive. I want to be sure I can improve anything with my experience, my view and my staff. We have a lot of great people here, the reception from the staff was fantastic, I am really pleased with that. We are working together but my responsibility is to try to improve every single department. If we have issues with the press department, we talk with them and try to improve after every press conference. It is the same with each department.”
Asked if he was growing impatient and was keen to make more changes,
Rafa Benitez replied: “We have a lot of people pushing and doing things right. The main thing will be the players. I am not stupid. It depends on the players what we do on the pitch. Then the rest of the people around will follow us. I want to be sure every player understands what it means to play for this club and go on the pitch in front of the fans and give everything. They are doing that. I am happy with that and I think the fans also appreciate the effort of the players. But it has to be the same in each department. When you see the money spent the club has to be in a much better position. You have to compete against all the teams and it is not straight away that you start winning games and doing everything right. I will be the first to make mistakes, but I have experience and I want to win. How can we win? By improving 5 percent or 10 percent in each department, then it is possible.”
Benitez believes Fernandez, who worked with him at Newcastle United, can help stop a worrying trend of injuries at Everton. And while the Blues boss says some of the squad’s problems have been out of their control, he suggests that plenty have not. Asked if he was unhappy with the medical department,
Rafa Benitez said: “I will try to give you a long answer and then you will understand what I am trying to say. If you sign in a new club – any manager – if you have some friends in the media or ex-teammates or whatever, usually they say “he needs time”. They give you three years, more or less. If you don’t have any friends, they give you three months. When you go to another club, you have to start building things. Then you know Rome was not built in one day, no? When we arrived here, we analysed every single department. After, we tried to use common sense and then we started making decisions. If you think about the injuries that we have, the first analysis is that which of these players have had injuries in the past. So we have some players that have historical issues. That is the first risk of re-injury – if you have had injuries in the past. The second thing you need to analyse is COVID. Players travelling around, different ways so they cannot train and then after 10-15 days, they go on the pitch. So that is another factor that we have to analyse. Then there are injuries like the tackle of Richarlsion, the shoulder of Delph, the stress fracture of Doucoure – you cannot stop that. Then it impossible to predict these things. After, there are some other things. We analyse the situation, we try to find solutions. To bring Cristian in, was to try to solve the problem. We analyse every department and see if we can help people to manage the situation in the best way possible. When we talk about injuries, when we talk about this department, it is just a question of time. A player who has been injured three-four times since last year, it is very difficult that he will be injured now. Also, it means that the other players are playing more games, more minutes and then you overload these players. It is a logical explanation for a lot of things. We are trying to improve the department.”
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