Rafa Benitez says that it is important that he sends the message to his squad, telling them that all of them are important and anybody could end up playing in any particular game.
After leaving out Captain Jamaal Lascelles on Wednesday, he says the player’s reaction sums up why he gave him the armband. The United boss saying that Lascelles ‘…is somebody who knows his responsibilities – to work hard, to be ready for every game.’
Rafa also is keen on supporters understanding that squad rotation is essential with 46 games and regularly playing in midweek as well as on the weekend.
As for the transfer window, Rafa Benitez was asked whether the performances so far had made him change his mind about which players he wanted to bring in.
However, the manager says that little has changed on that front, with his big problem being that ‘you cannot sign the players that maybe you wanted to sign two weeks ago’, due to Premier League clubs showing interest in the same players.
Rafa Benitez speaking before Bristol City:
“I like to change players because you need to do it when you play two games a week. You have to change players because they will have some problems, or they will be tired, or whatever.
“So I think it is important to send the message to our players that all of them will be important and all of them can take part in any game.”
‘Does it also send a message to fans that there will be squad rotation?’
“Yes, I think it is obvious that we will do it, we have to do it, and the explanation is simple. You have players tired, you have players maybe injured, if they are doing well you can keep players playing all games in a row – but if you have to change, everybody knows what they have to do.”
‘You left your Captain (Lascelles) out, how has he reacted and will he return tomorrow?’
“He reacted really well because that is the reason I gave him the armband – because he is somebody who knows his responsibilities – to work hard, to be ready for every game.
“Living by example I think is how you say it in English – everything is fine and if he plays…you will see tomorrow.”
‘The transfer window?’
“We are working very hard, every day. I am checking with Lee Charnley every day, we are checking with agents, thinking about what we have to do to improve the team. Thinking about what we have to do to make sure the squad has the right number of players.”
‘Is that a case of moving players out, as well as in?’
“Yes, exactly. We have some targets and hopefully we can do it sooner rather than later.”
‘Have your transfer targets changed after watching the games so far?’
“No, in terms of the idea about the players and what we needed, it is more or less the same.
“The difference now is that you cannot sign the players that maybe you wanted to sign two weeks ago – because the Premier League clubs were in the middle.”
‘Bristol City Manager, Lee Johnson, says he is looking forward to pitting his wits against and learning from a manager of your calibre?’
“We can chat, we can talk, but the first thing will be try to win and then after…we can talk about anything.”