Disciplined, compact, solid, and holding the potential to attack with intent: This is how Rafa Benitez likes it.
The Everton boss got a pair of goals and a lot of commitment from his men to stay unbeaten through three matches with two wins following a 2-0 win at Brighton on Saturday.
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“From the beginning the team showed very good team spirit, organization, and desire,” Benitez said. “I’m really pleased because we played really well, we won, clean sheet, lots of positives.”
There is danger that Everton’s performance could be lost in the sauce of Richarlison’s clear frustration with not taking a penalty, especially considering the rumors that PSG bids will be coming for the Brazilian star if Kylian Mbappe is sold to Real Madrid (oddly enough, the current side of one Carlo Ancelotti, formerly led by Benitez.)
But both Benitez (and Demarai Gray) downplayed the penalty drama.
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“We have to compete in training to see who scores more penalties, but at the moment Dominic is the first taker, Richie is the second one,” Benitez said.
Richarlison is such a key part of Everton’s plans, especially with James Rodriguez also a question mark, so all signs will be watched closely in the coming days.
This is a player who refused to dismiss the idea of an exit under Carlo Ancelotti, with reports claiming the manager convinced him he could become a 30-goal scorer under his watch.
And then Ancelotti left.
“I don’t think speculation around Richarlison’s future has impacted him,” Benitez said. “Don’t forget this player has played the Copa America, then the Olympics, had no holiday, and then came back and played so well.”