By Carl Markham, PA
Everton manager Rafael Benitez insists he will do a “proper” job at the club and does not have to win over doubting fans after a 3-1 victory over Southampton got his controversial reign up and running in style.
The former Liverpool boss has faced opposition from a section of the support because of his association with the red half of the city and his “small club” comments about the Toffees from a Merseyside derby in 2007.
However, after goals from Olympic gold medallist Richarlison, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dominic Calvert-Lewin turned things around following Adam Armstrong’s maiden Premier League goal for his new club, Benitez credited the players and a full Goodison Park with the victory.
“It is is nothing to do with me, it is more about the players and the fans,” he said.
“After so many months without fans the players appreciate the support of the fans and the fans appreciate the commitment of the players.
“They (fans) know the manager I am, I like to fight and compete: I did it today and I will do it all my time here. I am someone who likes to do their job properly and likes to win.
“I was nervous when I was coming here with other teams but not with my team. I am delighted to be here and see the reaction of the fans.
“It was an opportunity to show what we can do, what I can do, but especially what the players can do on the pitch with the fans behind them.
“We have to be competitive and the reaction we had after conceding a goal is something I have to be pleased about as manager.”
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was delighted to see his new £15million acquisition from Blackburn get off the mark immediately as he seeks to fill the boots of Danny Ings, who joined Aston Villa in the summer.
“I think it was a very good first game for him, he showed immediately he is good in the game, he is quick and can go in behind,” he said.
“I think we have a new striker who can score goals and this is good.”
Hasenhuttl also felt his side’s performance deserved more than it got having taken a 22nd-minute lead.
“It is very disappointing. We had a good start, a good goal and a lot of things we were working on were quite good,” he added.
“I haven’t seen a lot of chances for them in 45 minutes and then we concede a goal just after half-time. How we conceded the goal was too easy.
“It is a pity the guys don’t get anything from this game because I think the performance shows more than the score.”