Rafael Benitez has outlined the basic attributes that have underpinned Everton’s solid start to the season, saying he “knows what scousers are looking for.”
The Toffees have taken four points from their opening two Premier League games and progressed through to the Carabao Cup third round after a hard-earned 2-1 win at Huddersfield on Tuesday, despite spending much of the second half with 10 men.
Benitez says the battling qualities shown by the players in that game appeal to Evertonians, who like to see their team show 100% commitment at all times.
The Spaniard, who has had a house on Merseyside since his days as Liverpool boss 15 years ago, said:
“I have been in Liverpool for so many years and I know what the Scousers are looking for.
“They look for character, commitment, desire and passion – and they can see these things in the games we have played this season.
“They are the basics you need. If we have this character and improve a little bit in some parts of the game, I think we will be better.
“I think the team has this belief, this way to approach the games – knowing that if we play well, we can score goals and win matches.”
Another one of the plus points to come from Wednesday was a first start in 738 days for Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
The Ivorian has endured a miserable two years of injury and was understandably rusty. But by completing the full 90 minutes he took a giant step towards full match fitness.
Benitez believes Gbamin will prove to be an asset when he gets up to full speed.
“To compete and play 90 minutes in the way he was working, I think it is good for him, for his confidence for his future, and for us.
“He is giving us another option in the middle of the pitch and more competition, so I think it is good news for everyone.”
Another notable decision by Benitez was the selection of Mason Holgate as captain, the second time the defender had led out the Toffees in his career.
Holgate had been dropped to the bench for the Premier League draw at Leeds last weekend, but Benitez hoped giving him the armband in midweek would give him a timely morale boost.
“I wanted to give Mason some confidence because he didn’t play one of the games [at Leeds], to be sure he feels he is part of the group.
“We want to create this mentality of, ‘We have to compete for our positions’.
“We have to compete in every game and then we will be stronger and stronger.”