Rafael Benitez is looking forward to when he can work with the players for a full week with no midweek match to negotiate, but with no prospect of that soon, the interim manager in the meantime will use rotation to not only rest but to also work on the physical condition of individual players.
He has identified this aspect of training as a way to improve on a recent series of results lacking wins, but not at the expense of proper recovery after matches that aids energy levels and injury prevention. This is why players may be pulled away from the front line from time to time.
‘If you can see that the team needs to improve a little bit physically, you cannot improve them if you have to play two games in a week,’ Benitez explains.
‘Sometimes it’s better if they don’t play for one game and you can have a proper physio plan. For any player, if you play two games per week with the Champions League it is very, very demanding. When you play one game per week you can train. Teams that play just the Premier League and they don’t play in Europe have one week just to prepare the team.
‘I remember one of the managers, he was asking me, “Listen, this is my first year in Europe and I don’t have this experience, what can we do?” I said “be careful”.
‘They didn’t have too many injuries before and the year when they played in Europe, they had a lot of injuries because it’s totally different. You have to play, you have to fly back and you don’t have time to recover.
‘Any of our players now, if they have maybe one game without playing and train during the whole week, they would get the benefit. I would like to have the players for one week and then train them properly but you have to play games, and you have to win games, so…’
As he aims for more rotation, Benitez is pleased Marko Marin is over the injuries that hampered the German’s start to the season. He handed the winger his Premier League debut as a substitute on Wednesday night.
‘I knew Marin when he was at Werder Bremen, Liverpool played against them and he was one of the best players.
‘Watching him in the training sessions here he seems sharp, and you can see that he’s very clever. He’s keen to learn and he’s not someone you have to explain the same thing to three times. He’s someone that can help.’
‘The decisions on who to rest and when to rest them in order to aid training and physical condition will be made following discussions with the fitness coaches, medical staff and the players themselves.Benitez describes his communication with the squad.
‘I like to talk with players every day. I go to the pitch and talk with them, ask questions, or we talk about what they have seen, or a teammate, or families sometimes.
‘So I like to talk with them but it’s just a one-minute conversation, or two minutes, it depends. When you are walking to the pitch it could be three minutes talking with someone, or you sit down and have breakfast with them.
‘The Brazilians can understand Spanish,’ he says, ‘so I can talk with them slowly in Spanish. English I can speak but I have to improve my French. I can talk in French with Eden Hazard but still I need to practise a little bit. It’s a good way to understand them and to know how they feel.’
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