Rafael Benitez insists he has the full support of the Everton hierarchy despite the club’s woeful form.
Benitez finds himself under pressure after a run of just five points from the last 30 available has seen the Toffees slide down the Premier League table.
A fractious fanbase, mounting injuries and an imposing fixture list have added to the sense of looming crisis, but Benitez says he does not fear the sack, adding that he has already held talks about the club’s January transfer plans.
Speaking to reporters to preview Thursday’s trip to Chelsea, he said:
“I was talking with Mr Moshiri this morning. I have meetings with the chairman, the chief executive and they are supporting me.
“They have experienced changing managers, they have experienced trying to adapt things and it was not working.
“Which is the feeling of the last years for any Everton fan: success or frustration? You know the answer.
“I have a lot of fans that are telling me the same. They know the problems are not just ones you can fix in just five months.
“When I talk with the owner, the chairman and the chief exec nearly every day we talk about what we want to do for the future, not just the present.
“We are thinking about January and not just January, after to see what we can do to make the team stronger.”
Asked whether he felt his job was secure, Benitez added:
“Yes, the idea was to be here three years-plus with the new stadium. You still have to keep doing your job. One game will put us in the top 10.”
Despite the anger and frustration at recent results and Benitez’s role in them, it is widely acknowledged that years of mismanagement has contributed to this mess, as well as horrendous luck on the injury front.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, so central to the way the team plays, has been absent since August, while Abdoulaye Doucoure, Richarlison and Yerry Mina have all had extended spells out of the side.
Benitez is also perhaps fortunate that, having changed manager so often in recent years, Moshiri is unwilling to add another name to that list - for now.
He is aware of the pressure he is under though and the mounting opposition to his tenure, so he decided to come out fighting and said injuries are the main reason behind recent results.
“Last year the squad was around 16 players during the whole season, that means you have a lot of players that are not available and a lot of them were injury prone, they were losing between 30 and 40 per cent of the games because they were injured.
“Dominic was playing 85 per cent of the games last season and now he is playing 18 per cent.
“Richarlison was in the Copa America and the Olympic Games and now he is injured because maybe he has been overloaded.
“The majority of the players are playing more than they would expect if you have a squad of 25 players because we don’t have too many [available].
“We are trying to manage these problems of the past. We take responsibility because we know we can improve things but sometimes you cannot stop a broken bone of Andros Townsend, the knee of Tom Davies or the metatarsal of Doucoure.
“When you have players overloaded, and Richarlison is an example, then you have to deal with that.
“We will try to improve the squad in January in terms of positions and names and hopefully we can do well.”
Definite “these are the facts” vibes with that speech.
There’s no doubt that other factors have worked against Benitez, but what seems to be frustrating supporters is his failure to recognise his role in the side’s poor form.
Five points from 30 is an atrocious run and not reflective on the talent within the squad, regardless of the injury crisis, with his tactics rightly called into question.
Benitez is a determined man with a fierce will to win, but that also comes across to some as stubborn and even arrogant, which is not doing much to build bridges with a fanbase already unhappy with his appointment.