Rafa Benitez claims Everton ‘didn’t know me as a professional’ at the job interview as they questioned his wish over the move to China – but Toffees boss applauds their ambition after off to a flying start
- Rafa Benitez was named Everton boss in June after being unemployed since January
- His previous role was 18 months with Chinese outfit Dalian Professional
- The Spaniard has done brilliantly so far at Goodison Park with the Toffees in fifth
Rafa Benitez has revealed that Everton’s hierarchy thought he had lost the passion of managing at the top due to his time in China, but that was far from the case – with the Spaniard driven by the club’s ambitious project.
The former Liverpool boss was controversially appointed as Toffees manager in June but has quickly won over Goodison Park fans after their stellar start to the Premier League season, where they are fifth but only two points from the top .
Benitez had been out of work since January after taking charge of China’s Dalian Professional after 18 months.
Rafa Benitez claims Everton ‘didn’t know me as a professional’ during his job interview
He last passed with Chinese outfit Dalian and believes Everton’s board have questioned that
But those fears have been allayed now that Benitez has been flying at Goodison Park since his appointment
And the Spaniard says it was that Far Eastern spell that made his new employers insecure about his quest to succeed at the elite level that surprised him.
‘This [the Everton job] was a great opportunity,” he told the Liverpool Echo. “The owners have ambition and they want to compete, they want to do well and there is the new stadium, so everything was fine. It was just a matter of agreeing that this was the right solution for me and for them.
‘I spoke to Mr [Farhad] Moshiric [Everton majority shareholder] and then there was a big conference call with a lot of people and then it was good.
“They wanted to ask questions and then, which surprised me, they didn’t know me as a professional.
“They can read the press and maybe the ECHO and say ‘he’s this and he’s that’, but they think I went to China and that’s it. I went to China because I couldn’t participate here and it was a great opportunity.
‘It was a project with potential and money, but the pandemic changed everything. So by coming here I was able to participate again. Owners with ambition.’
Despite spending just £1.7million on six players in the summer transfer window, Benitez certainly gets his money’s worth from key signings Andros Townsend (free transfer) and Demarai Gray (£1.7million).
The pair have been a catalyst for Everton’s impressive campaign thus far, with Townsend delivering five goals and three assists in nine games, while Gray had three goals and one assist in the same number of games.
Benitez hopes to continue Everton’s good form on Sunday when they host West Ham in the league.