Everton boss Rafael Benitez wants players to turn Goodison Park into a fortress

Everton manager Rafael Benitez wants to make Goodison Park a fortress (Anthony Devlin/PA) (PA Wire)
17:39pm, Tue 14 Sep 2021
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Everton manager Rafael Benitez wants to make Goodison Park a fortress to prove his side are strong enough to compete with the best.

The 3-1 victory over Burnley was the second successive home match the Spaniard’s side had won after conceding the first goal, having done it just twice in the previous 59 Premier League matches.

Last season under predecessor Carlo Ancelotti Everton won just six and lost nine at Goodison Park with their 22 points at home the second-worst in their history.

Benitez is looking to change that having got off to the ideal start.

“We are looking to build a fortress here so people realise we are strong enough to compete against anyone,” said the former Liverpool boss.

“I think it’s really important (to be able to win from losing positions). It had been a long time that the team had not been reacting (to conceding the first goal) and we have done that twice now in front of the fans.

“That is what you are expecting from a team that cares. They show the commitment in every game.

“Even when we were losing the game, you see how they work, how hard they tried to change things and that’s something the fans really appreciate.”

The victory was achieved without last season’s leading scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who is expected to be out for at least two to three weeks with a broken toe and thigh injury.

In his absence centre-back Michael Keane scored his first since January, Andros Townsend found the net for the first time in almost 12 months while fellow new signing Demarai Gray made it three in four league matches since arriving.

“I think it is important for any team, if you want to be stronger, to have players who can score goals and not just depend on one player,” added Benitez.

“The wingers are scoring goals, Richarlison can play as a striker or winger. Hopefully Salomon Rondon, a new addition, will score goals.”

However, even with Calvert-Lewin’s absence it is not going to be easy for out-of-favour playmaker James Rodriguez to get back into the side.

The club failed to offload the high-earning Colombia international in the summer and he has yet to feature in a matchday squad as Benitez said he is not yet fit enough.

“It doesn’t change too much (for Rodriguez) because the position we are talking about is striker,” said the Toffees boss.

“No one can argue about the quality of James but he is behind the others and if they continue playing like that it will not be easy for me.”

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