“I like him as a player and as a person.”
Rafa Benitez has praised Seamus Coleman ahead of the pair working together for Everton. Benitez held his first press conference as the new Everton manager on Wednesday and he took the chance to speak highly of Coleman, the Toffees’ captain and longest-serving player.
Rafa Benitez: Seamus Coleman is an inspiration for everyone at Everton.
“Since I have been here, I have been talking with Seamus so many times,” Benitez told reporters at a press conference.
“He is an inspiration for everyone. He is a very good professional. He is very helpful for me. He can be a key player. I like him as a player and as a person.”
The appointment of Benitez, the former Liverpool manager, to replace Carlo Ancelotti as Everton manager did not go down well with all supporters of the club.
A threatening banner stating opposition to Benitez’s arrival at Goodison Park was left outside his house, and the appointment was met with a lukewarm response on social media from many Everton supporters.
Coleman, however, has backed Benitez’s appointment and urged has urged everyone associated with the club to get on the same page and fight for what is best for Everton.
“As players and staff we need and want what’s best for Everton Football Club and as I touched on, there have been too many seasons that just dwindled out,” Coleman told Off the Ball recently.
“That’s on me and a lot of the players and me as captain in the last couple of years. Now we’re ready to go again and come back and impress the new manager.
“Like I keep talking about, and I’m not embarrassed to say it, we want what’s best for Everton and we want to be successful.”
Rafa Benitez: I will fight for Everton.
Benitez echoed those sentiments when speaking to the media on Wednesday afternoon.
The former Real Madrid, Liverpool and Newcastle United manager promised to do his best to help Everton advance up the Premier League table. Last season under Ancelotti, who left the club in June to become Real Madrid manager, they finished 10th.
“If you are the manager, you have to defend your club in any context,” Benitez said.
“In this case, I will fight for Everton, I will try to do my best every single game, and I will try to compete against anyone.
“I know how the team finished last year, and we will try to be sure that we can do better.
“We can talk the talk, but I prefer to walk the walk and hopefully everyone will be happy, starting with me. If I am happy, the fans will be very happy too.”
Benitez also addressed his comment about Everton being a “small club” – made during his early days at Liverpool. The Spanish coach simply said: “It was a long time ago.”