Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has been appointed as the new manager of Merseyside rivals Everton. This has not gone down well with fans who have protested against his appointment.

Liverpool and Everton have a massive city rivalry so having a former Liverpool manager has received a lot of heat. Benitez won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool in 2005.

Benitez will be managing his fourth club in England having previously managed Chelsea and Newcastle United as well in the Premier League.

He succeeds Carlo Ancelotti who left the Toffees to join Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane left the Spanish club.

“I am delighted to be joining Everton. Throughout this process, I have been greatly impressed by the ambition shown by the senior representatives at the Club and their desire to bring success to this historic Club. I believe this is a Club that is going places. I’m determined to play a big part in helping this great Club achieve its ambitions,” said Benitez following his appointment in a club release.

Everton club chairman Bill Kenwright said, “Rafa Benitez is joining Everton Football Club at an exciting time. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wish him well in achieving success for our football club – success our supporters long for and deserve.”

Evertonians are not happy with the appointment

Evertonian fans have not taken well to the appointment of Benitez, however. He had called Everton a “small club” in the past and that has angered many. Some protestors had put a banner in front of his family’s Wirral home that said, “We know where you live”.

Nevertheless, Benitez has asked for the fans’ support. He told the Guardian: “I know what it means for Evertonians. I know what it means for people in the city and the passion they have. I think it is crucial for us to have the fans behind us. This year, with the pandemic, has been very difficult and football without the fans is totally different. I was following the form of Everton [last season], and obviously, away from home, they have been fine, but not so good at home. Why? Because they didn’t have the fans behind. It is crucial.”

Benitez is ready

“You can see the ambition is there,” Benitez told Everton TV. “This club is growing.”

“For me, it is about bringing the winning mentality, being competitive, so everything is in place on the pitch and off the pitch. I love the passion of the people behind the club. I know the city, I know Scousers, I know what it means for every fan here to compete and to have the chance to win.

“To come to Everton is something that means a lot, for sure. You can see the ambition of the owner, of the board, everybody wants to be better and to go to the new stadium with a massive boost. I like to compete. I like to win. I came from the academy at Real Madrid [as a young player and coach], and the winning mentality is already there.

Everton needs a winning mentality

“We [Benitez and the coaching staff] have won 13 titles because we have this mentality and I still want to win. And I have come to Everton because I liked the idea to be competitive again — and to have the chance to compete in every game, to compete against anyone.”

“I have been in Madrid, Naples, Valencia, Tenerife, Extremadura and Liverpool. Every single club I was there, I was fighting for them. If you analyse things in that context, what you are expecting from your manager is to fight for your club, and I will do that,” he concluded.