Ex-Everton boss Benitez: Gordon had to change mentality

Former Everton boss Rafa Benitez admits he wasn’t convinced by Anthony Gordon when he was in charge last season.

Despite viewing Gordon as a future talent, the ex-Liverpool and Real Madrid boss was put off by his concerning work-rate and fitness levels in pre-season.

Benitez told Sky Sports: “We played in Miami in pre-season and after 50 minutes he couldn’t run. We knew he was a player with quality on the ball, finishing, passing, with pace – but he couldn’t run.

“We had that conversation with him after the game, it was hot but a young player should be okay but he had issues with his stamina.

“I was talking with the coaches in the academy and my assistants and then he went to Preston on loan. They said we know he has the talent, but maybe not the mentality.

“The boy told me, when he was in the national team U19s he was one of the best players, but he wasn’t going to the U21s because they didn’t see how hard he worked.

‘He was confident that the way he was training was working. He played 12 games in total with us and he was doing well, I am really pleased to see him progressing. He has to improve some parts of his game – he knows that.”

He revealed: “We played in Miami in pre-season and after 50 minutes [Gordon] couldn’t run’

“We were spending time with him, but the main one was to change his mentality, and he was very keen to do it. He was working so hard on the pitch that he was getting better, because he had the potential.”