Manager of the famous 2005 Champions League winning team, a legend etched forever within the famous Anfield walls. Coming out with ‘small club’ remarks about the team over the park (to the delight of many Reds), possibly in response to the constant ‘fat Spanish waiter’ jibes coming from Goodison. A resistance against the notorious Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United.
A master tactician. An iconic manager. A Liverpool legend.
Rafa to Everton. Mad, isn’t it?
Originally just a mere murmur in the papers, quite likely portrayed as a bit of a far-fetched, fun scenario at both set of fans. Rafa Benítez as the Everton manager? Imagine!
Then the mutter became speech. The speech became a shout. Before you knew it, there were pictures of the Madrid-native with a blue and white scarf around his neck. It happened. He’s the official Everton manager.
It’s safe to say some Liverpool fans aren’t pleased – though neither are many Everton supporters. Many in fierce opposition to the appointment – some lowlife even placed a banner near his family home in Wirral, with the words: “We know where you live. Don’t sign.”
Still, as controversial as the matter is, there were those who chose to see the positive side – two Evertonians struck back at the threatening individuals, holding up a banner welcoming Benitez from ‘true blues’, on Goodison Way.
Many also brought up the fact that Benítez’s wife and family still call Merseyside home, staying in their Wirral household from the Spaniard’s years managing Liverpool.
It wasn’t just his family that would have attracted him back to the north-west, though, as his relationship with the city and people of Liverpool is one knitted with tight strings – especially due to his charitable actions for the Hillsborough cause.
Shortly after his departure from Liverpool, in 2010, Benitez made a donation of £96,000 to the Hillsborough Family Support Group. He has also attended annual events like Run For The 96 in Stanley Park, and also the Memorial Service at Anfield, held around the date of the tragedy.
To Liverpudlians like myself, these reasons themselves show that there isn’t much room for hard feelings towards Benitez – although his ‘small club’ remark about the Blues will remain fresh in the mind of Evertonians.
Moving on to our own side, as much as it ‘should’ be classed as betrayal, with the character of Benitez, the love for the city and the success he brought – I just couldn’t ever hate the man. He brought us our fifth European Cup, and in THAT fashion!
This is just my personal take. I know there will be Reds reading this who can’t forgive him for crossing the divide – that’s normal, and understandable. But if you look at the theories outside of immediate football , you might be able to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Keep his banners on the Kop – once a red, always a red.
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