To put it mildly, Everton’s appointment of Liverpool legend Rafa Benitez is controversial.
It is probably one of the most controversial appointments in Premier League history, if you don’t think so then you probably don’t know how tense and bitter the rivalry of the two great clubs is in this city.
And this has just given it an extra edge, an extra dimension, an extra bit of spice.
The rumours started about Rafa Benitez joining Everton a couple of weeks ago and he was the umpteenth manager to be linked with the club who were starting to look a bit foolish with the way they approached hiring the man to replace Carlo Ancelotti.
According to many reports Bill Kenwright and Farhad Moshiri could not come to an agreement on who to appoint as manager, in the end it appeared to be a bit of a mess as former Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo was ever so close to becoming the new man in charge until he pulled out of talks.
Then all attention turned to Rafa Benitez and then started the outrage from practically every supporter of Everton and Liverpool.
The rage on social media began with a large majority of Evertonians being against it, then the bedsheets started.
Lots of homemade banners stating the fans opinions about the potential idea of Benitez becoming the new manager started appearing outside Goodison Park even though a slight majority did argue against the negative banners.
Also, the whole of the Liverpool fanbase were and still are split and undecided about it.
They are either angry and disappointed or unbothered and reluctantly pleased for him to be back in the city he calls home.
It is totally understandable that large amounts of both sets of supporters are displeased, confused and annoyed.
A Liverpool legend is now the new Everton manager.
It is not normal, far from it.
It is a mental situation which is unheard of and if your eyebrows didn’t raise in the build-up to the announcement, I am sure they did when you saw Benitez with an Everton scarf round his neck.
It just did look wrong, however some of the things that have been done, have been said and are being said are ridiculously too far and if we are honest totally out of order.
Rafa Benitez is emotionally attached to this great city, and he should have the respect of everyone who lives here for the rest of time.
Regardless of what you think about his footballing morals what he has done off the pitch means that the cheap personal insults are ludicrous.
Then the banners threatening him and his family saying ‘we know where you live Don’t Sign’ is the most pathetic thing that could have been done.
He has donated £96,000 to the Hillsborough Family Support Group, supported runners at the ‘Run for the 96′ event, donated to the Lily Centre, donated to the Rhys Jones Memorial Fund, invited Rhys’ parents to Anfield to show support and has said countless heartfelt things regarding the Hillsborough disaster.
That should seriously mean something to everyone.
My point is you can want him to lose every game whilst at Everton without insulting a great man and you can protest against his appointment without threatening a man and family who adore this city.
The fact that Everton fans have been so vocal about not wanting him and Moshiri has still went ahead with it is alarming though.
It shows were the problem lies and it is not Rafa Benitez’s fault that he was wanted realistically meaning that if Everton fans do want to protest fully, they’ll need to have loud opinions about the owner.
“We are appointing Rafa because we believe he will bring success to our club and to Evertonians. To put it simply we need to be competing at the top-end of the league and to be winning trophies” is what Farhad Moshiri said about bringing Benitez in.
He is certainly a safe and stable option to take Everton into a new era with the new stadium but lots of fans have questioned whether he is the right man due to his recent jobs and not just because of his Liverpool past.
In his last job in China with Dalian Professional he did have more losses than victories with a points per game of 1.16 which is nothing to shout about, however the pandemic undoubtedly had an impact with Chinese football stopping for 8 months.
Before that he was obviously at Newcastle and he was adored like a saviour by their supporters.
He brought them straight back up blitzing the Championship using the 4-4-1-1 formation and winning the division with 94 points.
Due to Mike Ashley being the owner of Newcastle he was not backed enough in the transfer window once he had brought Newcastle up, so he adjusted using the 5-4-1 formation and made the Geordies stable in the Premier League under his tenure working with pennies.
It was undoubtedly a good job with the defensive side of things being the priority which has always been the case with Benitez.
A pragmatic approach is one which Carlo Ancelotti had been attempting to use and it had not worked under him even though he had clear attacking talent at his disposal which showed potential at the start of the 20/21 season.
The Italian clearly changed did not think that attacking approach was sustainable but his defence approach was a poor and almost panicky approach within games
Benitez’s defensive base is expected to be much more solid and organised rather than just suddenly dropping back after going one nil up like Ancelotti did a lot.
A younger manager with a clearer attacking minded philosophy (for example Graham Potter) may have been the more logical appointment and certainly was something fans would have welcomed however that always has the potential to unravel into disarray on the pitch.
Benitez is a safe pair of hands and if he is backed well there is potential for him to show why he is one of the most renowned managers in world football.
When he is in charge of a football club there is always hope that something special could happen and that is why Everton fans should be optimistic.
Move past the fact he has Liverpool affiliations and get behind him, he is not going anywhere soon otherwise Moshiri would never have given him a three-year deal so being pessimistic about the whole scenario and upcoming season won’t do you any good.
He will be written in the Liverpool history books for the rest of time and every Everton fan will hope he will be a part of theirs for the right reasons once his time is up at the club, but if one thing is for certain he will be always be remembered positively in this city.
Everyone should remember why that is, some things are bigger than football and Benitez has shown how special of a person he is.
Now we wait and see whether he can reignite a rather toxic fanbase in time for a season which shall provide one of the most unique Merseyside derbies of all time.
I for one, cannot wait!