Rafael Benitez has been out of Premier League football since 2019 after he left his managerial role at Newcastle United. Since then, he has served as the football manager of a Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional. He however left the club in 2021 to reunite with his family in Merseyside, England.
After months without a job, Benitez became the favorite candidate to replace Carlo Ancelotti who left Everton for Real Madrid after the 2020-2021 season.
Benitez was appointed the coach of Everton amidst agitation from some supporters of Liverpool who believe that the 61-year-old Spanish tactician should not have joined their local rivals.
Recall that Rafael Benitez was the coach of Liverpool between 2004 and 2010. During his time at the Merseyside club, he helped Liverpool to win one FA Cup, one FA Community Shield, one UEFA Champions League, and one UEFA Super Cup.
He left the club in 2010 for Inter Milan but left his family in Merseyside. Hence, it was always easy for him to accept a job offer in the Premier League so that he could be closer to his family.
While addressing the press for the first time as the manager of Everton, Rafael Benitez said Liverpool supporters have accepted his decision to join Everton because they know it is an opportunity for him to return to the Premier League.
He also stressed that most of the Everton supporters around him are happy with his decision to join the club despite describing it as a “small club” when he was the coach of Liverpool.
“To be fair, the Evertonians around my place are quite happy and very supportive. Even the Liverpudlians accepted it was an opportunity for me to come back to the Premier League,” Benitez said.
“About the banners – we can talk about one, two people. You never know. It’s better to think about positives, how a lot of people were encouraging me to do well.
“Football is quite emotional and everybody will have their opinions. For me, it’s a challenge, a chance to do well in the Premier League and show everyone we can compete.
“I was convinced when I decided to say yes, or even decided to start talking. It’s not something I’m scared of, it’s the opposite. I want to win, I want to do well. That is to be competitive for me, to be ambitious.”
Rafael Benitez defends himself after calling Everton a “small club”
In 2007 after a Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton, Rafael Benitez told a press conference that Everton was a small club. That statement did not go down well for most fans of the club then.
Though it is over 14 years ago that the Spanish tactician made such a comment, some fans of the Everton football club are yet to forgive him.
While trying to defend himself over the comment, Rafael Benitez said he made the comment because he was fighting for Liverpool and he would do the same for Everton.
He said: “It depends on the context. It was a long time ago. You are fighting for your club and that is what I will do now. I will fight for Everton.
“I will try to do my best every single game. I am pleased this club is getting bigger and bigger.”