Everton boss Rafael Benitez doing what is best for Anthony Gordon

Everton Boss Rafael Benitez Doing What Is Best For Anthony Gordon
Everton forward Anthony Gordon applauds the fans, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Carl Markham, PA

Everton manager Rafael Benitez is taking significant care with the development of academy graduate Anthony Gordon.

The 20-year-old, benefiting more than most from the injury absence of Richarlison, has started two of the last three matches.


Fans greeted his second-half replacement by the now fit-again Brazil international in the 5-2 defeat to Watford with some disdain but Benitez will not be swayed in terms of what is best for the youngster.

He believes that Gordon has more effect as an impact player and wants to currently use him for shorter periods.

“Don’t forget that Anthony was on loan last year and I decided to keep him here because I could see the potential,” said the Spaniard of a player who has made just 20 Premier League appearances in four seasons.

“I was the first one who explained to the boy (why he was substituted). It’s not about individuals, it’s about the team.


“I’m really pleased with his attitude and commitment in every training session and in the games.

“Anthony is working hard and getting better. If you ask him, he will say that he is fine and that he can play 90 minutes, for sure this is what he has to say because he’s a Premier League player.

“I’m really pleased with him and hopefully he can play 90 minutes in a lot of games between now and the end of the season, but my job is to be sure that he will play well in a lot of games, not just put him on the pitch and see what happens.

“I want to be sure that he is improving, to be sure he is progressing. He will be a much better player at the end of the season.”


Gordon is likely to lose his place to the returning Richarlison at Wolves on Monday, where Benitez will hope his side have learned their lessons from last weekend.

The late collapse would have been alarming to a manager who prides himself on organisation.

“I was frustrated because we were not expecting that. You can make a mistake and lose against West Ham because they are good at set-pieces. Fine,” he added.

“In this case we were winning so, after scoring the second goal, with Richarlison coming back and scoring, with the fans behind the team, everything was positive.


“You try to explain to your players and assure them it won’t happen again but it is difficult.”

Everton are currently being exposed at set-pieces and Benitez does not believe his players have quite mastered his zonal marking methods.

“If a player is coming and running against you, you have to react. We have to make sure we’re attacking the ball, and we show some character when we have to challenge,” he said.

“We’re not doing that. It’s not just the zonal marking, if it’s man-to-man they block your defender and there could be a man free with more chances and more space.


“I think it’s about how you defend, showing character and showing the aggression you have to show in these situations to defend a corner or whatever.”

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