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Benitez on transfer window plans, style of play and message for the supporters

The Toffees boss has held his first pre-match new a conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Southampton

Everton Pre-Season Training Camp Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Rafael Benitez says he still wants to strengthen the squad before the the transfer deadline, while expressing his frustration that the window has not closed before the start of the season.

The Premier League experimented with an early transfer deadline in recent years (last year’s Covid-delayed campaign aside), closing the week before the new season starts so managers and players can fully focus on matches.

However, that was deemed to give foreign clubs an advantage so it has been restored to its usual place at the end of August.

Everton have spent just £1.7m on three players so far, with yawning gaps still in the squad and a cluster of squad players still to be moved on, meaning it looks far from ready for the new season.

Asked about his plans in the transfer market, Benitez said:

“If you ask most of the managers, they want to improve. It’s still early, we wait to have until the end of the window. I’m happy with the way we’re training and working.

“When the window is open until end of August and you have to play games, you have speculation about players. It’s the same for every team. They tried to change but it was an advantage for teams on the continent. It isn’t ideal, but you have to manage the situation.”

Saturday’s game is the first at a capacity Goodison Park since March 2020, though a section of fans are less than enthused by Benitez’s appointment as manager.

Asked if he had a message for the supporters heading to Goodison on Saturday, the Spaniard said:

“It’s very good for everyone. The fans will be excited and for the manager it’s the same. You can feel the atmosphere so it’s really good for everyone involved in the game now.

“After 17 months they will be desperate to see the team on the pitch and to cheer the players. Historically Goodison Park is a difficult place to go and the fans be a major part of our success. I hope they will support the team how they can.”

Benitez’s playing style has also been discussed frequently since his arrival as manager.

Asked what the fans can expect from his side, he said:

”A winning mentality and to give everything on the pitch. They used to do it. I have seen a lot of teams struggle to get points here because of the intensity of the game, the commitment of the players, the desire. So we have to try to do that. At the same time we have to play well and to play well doesn’t mean give it 20 passes in your own box, or play direct football and just wait for the second ball, it is something in between.

I used to have teams that play well and were well organised and don’t concede too many so we will try to do that.”