Rafael Benitez thanked the Everton faithful for a warm welcome at Goodison Park and the role they played in the Toffees surging back to beat Southampton 3-1 in the season opener.
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Everton fell behind in the first half and trailed at half time but Richarlison inspired a second half comeback as Benitez won on his managerial debut for the Merseyside club.
There has been a mixed reception, at best, for the former Liverpool manager who was appointed as Carlo Ancelotti’s successor this summer but Everton’s fans got behind him, and the team, and made a lot of noise at a packed Goodison.
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Speaking to the the BBC after the game, Benitez thanked the fans for their support and the part they played in the comeback win.
Benitez appreciates support from Goodison faithful
“Thanks to the fans for the support for me and for the team. It’s an important situation this year with the fans behind us – I think it’ll be important for us,” Benitez told the BBC. “We know it’s the beginning and we have to improve, but we’re really pleased with the reaction of the team and the support of the fans.
“At half time we changed the position of the centre backs and the position of Richarlison. But you always have to have a little bit of luck. Playing Richarlison wasn’t a gamble – he was fine. We gave him one day to rest and made sure he was OK. He scored, so everyone’s happy. Obviously I think the performance is the key. It means we’re together. If you do all these things and you lose, it’ll be more difficult.”
— Everton (@Everton) August 14, 2021
More to come from Benitez and the Toffees
This wasn’t a great display from Everton but it was a taster of what is to come under Benitez.
Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin made the difference with a goal each and they were pretty solid defensively (aside from Michael Keane’s error) and they will keep games tight and tense.
That is why Benitez and Everton’s players will need the fans on their side to help push them over the line in games.
Despite some Everton fans not happy with the former Liverpool manager being in charge at Goodison, they can’t argue with an opening day win. Benitez will need plenty more victories to get every single Everton fan on-board but this was a solid start.