Rafael Benitez trusts vast experience to get Everton out of Premier League slide
Everton manager Rafael Benitez trusts his vast experience to stop his team’s disturbing slide, but he warned fans the pain could last until the New Year.
No victory in eight Premier League games has added to the pressure on the former Liverpool boss, with fans turning their anger on the board of directors and football manager Marcel Brands after the midweek derby defeat of the Merseyside home.
At the dawn of a month that includes matches against Arsenal on Monday, Chelsea and Leicester, as well as a trip to Burnley – and with main striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin unlikely to return from a thigh injury for at least a fortnight – things could get worse before they get better.
“I have experience in situations like this fighting for titles and trying to avoid relegation and my experience tells me to stay calm, keep working hard, try to correct the errors and then continue, ”Benitez said.
“What we want is to stay together because it’s crucial. It’s a frustrating time for us, but we have to keep going and work really hard.
“When you’re in a bad spot, every game feels like a ‘must win’.
“I’m positive and still have the belief that we are going to do well because we did it at the start of the season.
“I have said a number of times that we would do well in the second half.
“Now is the time for us to stick together and try to go January in the best position possible.”
Everton have kept just three clean sheets all season, the last a month ago, and with their situation up front – Demarai Gray’s goal on Wednesday was their first since November 1 – Benitez knows they have to to tighten.
“You have to do the basic things well, then, little by little, you can build on that,” he added.
“We must be strong and strong, defend and work as a unit. Afterwards, if you get one or two results, we will have more confidence and it will be easier.
“We were really strong at the start of the season. We had a strong defensive unit and played good football on the counter attack.
“We have to go back to these principles and not make mistakes that will allow the teams to punish us.”
Benitez also urged his players to follow the lead of captain Seamus Coleman, whom he admits felt sorry after his mistake allowed Liverpool to score the crucial third goal in Wednesday night’s 4-1 win.
“Seamus was desperate to do well and was pushing the team over the last few weeks to make sure everyone was giving their all and he was the first to give their all and then he made a mistake and he was so sorry,” said the Spanish.
“I was sorry because when you have someone so professional and you want to do so well for his club, making that kind of mistake is even worse for him and for us.
“Then it’s to support him, which we did right away and make sure the rest of the players copy the example in terms of the mindset, the approach and the hard work he does every day.
“When something’s wrong it’s really important to show character and stay calm.
“When you’re under pressure and the anxiety is there, you make more mistakes.
“Keep calm and keep working, work harder if possible. That’s what I try to do with my staff and that’s the message for the players.