If the Everton back line manage to keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet on Saturday it could be down to the influence of a former Manchester United defender.
With Ronaldo scoring five goals in his first five games back at Old Trafford, Rafa Benitez’s side will know they have to be on their game to keep the Portugal international at bay but Toffees defender Ben Godfrey has some advice in his back pocket that might help him.
The 23-year-old shares the same agency as Rio Ferdinand and the former United centre-back has been on hand with advice to help the Everton man whenever he needs it.
“He’s someone who had an unbelievable career and achieved so much in the game and for someone who’s a centre-back there aren’t many better around to be learning from,” Godfrey told Goal ahead of the launch of FIFA 22. “He’s only ever a text or call away, he’s always approachable and, if I’m ever in any doubt about anything, sometimes he’ll get in touch and say he’s been watching my clips and he’ll go through stuff with me. I’m lucky to have that relationship with him.”
Godfrey might want to get in touch with him ahead of Everton’s trip to Old Trafford this weekend to see if he’s got any tips on how to deal with his former team-mate Ronaldo. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised the 36-year-old’s clinical finishing ability and, with five in five, it is understandable why the Norwegian is happy with his return.
But Godfrey, who is back to full fitness after missing the start of the season due to Covid, is not worried about the five-time Ballon d’Or winner and is confident Everton can get a result if they focus on themselves.
“He’s a big name in the game. He’s a player I looked up to when I was a young kid and we’ve got to be on our game if we want to keep him quiet. But I’m looking forward to it, it’s what you want to do, you want to compete against the best so it’ll be good,” he explained.
“I think it’s the same for all athletes, you want to share a pitch with the greatest and compete with them. It’s always great to have him back in the Premier League, I think everyone has looked forward to playing against him. Hopefully I’ll keep him quiet, there’s a job to be done at the end of the day and I’ve got to silence him and get us the three points.”
Given the form of the two sides going into this game, and the fact United lost their last league game at Old Trafford against Aston Villa, there’s confidence in the Everton camp that they too can go there and get three points.
So, has Old Trafford lost its historic fear factor?
“I think it’s still got that element of a difficult place to go. That’s always been the case,” Godfrey said. “It’s very difficult to go to Old Trafford and get points, that can never be underestimated. We’ve got to be on it 100 per cent if we want to leave with points.”
And, with Everton’s current form, there’s no reason for them not to be confident heading into the game. Benitez’s side sit fifth in the table, level on points with United, having won four, lost one and drawn one in their opening six games, and Godfrey has been impressed with what he has seen from his new boss so far.
“He’s a good guy who has achieved so much in the game, so to have that opportunity to work under him and learn every day is great,” the defender explained.
“Defensively and tactically there’s definitely areas he wants to improve in my game and I’m happy for him to do that and I can agree with that. If I break my game down, pace is a massive factor of my game and if I can improve the side where I use my brain a lot more and become smarter and a lot more intelligent when I’m playing then it will only make me a better player.
“I’m grateful for the time he is putting into me and it’s been a good couple of months working with him.”
Godfrey was speaking ahead of the launch of EA SPORTS FIFA 22 which is out NOW on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and all other platforms. To order your copy, head here.