Rafa Benitez was controversially appointed as Everton boss earlier this week, replacing Carlo Ancelotti in the role after the Italian departed to take charge of Real Madrid.
The ex-Liverpool manager will lead the Blues into the new campaign, and ahead of the first Merseyside derby – which is set to take place in late November – much of the build-up will likely surround Benitez’s past.
Interestingly, the 61 year-old has elaborated on his former club in recent times, detailing how he’d compete against them in a tactical sense as head coach of an opposition side.
Speaking to Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football in 2019, Benitez was asked how he’d manage a team against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
“We played against [Klopp’s] Borussia Dortmund when I was in Napoli, and we beat them because we moved the ball quick and ran in behind,” said the new Everton head coach.
“You have the big spaces behind the full-backs, that is where you have to run when you regain the ball.
“Because they press so quickly, the first pass has to be a simple pass away from the pressure, and then you have to go behind the defenders. You can exploit the space behind.”
Benitez also referenced the need for pace in attack when executing such a game plan, which could bode well for Dominic Calvert-Lewin in particular, alongside Richarlison.
When asked how he would defend in such a contest, Benitez stressed the need for pace once more after highlighting the speedy strengths of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
“These three players up front. They can press, they are quick,” he said. “It depends on your defenders. If you are quick, you can compete against them. If you are not quick enough, you have to drop.”
The Champions League winner highlighted the importance of not dropping too deep, as that places too much demand on the forwards to lead attacks far from goal against the likes of Virgil van Dijk.
Benitez stated his defensive line would usually be positioned high enough so that only around a quarter of the pitch is available behind his defence, as shown below.
“If you can keep the team at this level,” he said, “you have enough space to run behind, but still they don’t have enough space behind you.”
Given that Liverpool remain very similar to their 2019/20 outfit, it is unlikely that Benitez’s ideas surrounding his previous team have changed too much, with only Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota added in the time since when it comes to notable signings.