|IN CHARGE: Rafa Benitez was unveiled as Everton manager this week. Photo courtesy of Everton Football Club|
I have a mate who lives in England who is Everton through and through. If you were to cut him, he would bleed blue. I would go as far as to say there isn’t a bigger Evertonian around. Certainly the biggest I know.
Tattoo of the Everton badge on his arm, obviously. Attends every game home and away, of course. And he even specifically bought a house 30 years ago as close as possible to Goodison Park so it would be easier to get to games.
But the one attribute he possesses that stands him out as a diehard supporter of Everton Football Club is that he hates Liverpool FC.
Over the years, chats that have started off as friendly banter between us over football rivalry have quickly descended into chaos. He hates Liverpool just as much as he loves Everton, probably more so.
So I was interested to hear his opinions on the rumours this week that Rafa Benitez, former manager of Liverpool, was in contention for the Everton job. Rumours that came true on Wednesday.
And I wasn’t surprised to read on my friend’s social media pages that he couldn’t care less that Rafa had been appointed, and as long as the former Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Chelsea manager brought long-awaited and much-needed success to Everton, then no problem.
To hear this from a friend who for all the years Benitez was in charge of Liverpool loathed the very ground he walked on didn’t come as a shock because at the end of the day my pal is a true football supporter who wants his team to win.
That’s why it was saddening to see so-called Everton fans placing homemade banners outside Rafa’s home telling him not to sign on. Thankfully, the Spaniard took zero notice of these moronic buffoons and took the job.
Off the pitch, Rafa has done so much for the city of Liverpool he now calls home. Work in the community, supporting charities, appearances at fundraising events and generous cash donations to worthy causes.
On the pitch, his record speaks for itself. He has been successful and won trophies at just about every team he has managed.
And I also know plenty of Newcastle supporters who will say he should never have left their team and will be disappointed to see him in the blue of Everton and not the black of their club.
Rafa will bring success to Everton, but it won’t be instant. He needs time, financial backing from the owners of the club, and most of all, support from the fans.
Any Everton supporter who doesn’t welcome him to the club is not in my opinion a true fan.
Sure, hate Liverpool. Hate them with a passion and cheer when they lose, but be man (or woman) enough to realise that Benitez is a true professional, and will do his utmost to bring success to Goodison Park.
My friend back home also pointed out that he isn’t the first former employee of Liverpool Football Club to make the switch. Back in the 80s and 90s many players left Liverpool to ply their trade at Everton and were extremely successful.
Kevin Sheedy, Dave Watson, Alan Harper, Gary Ablett and Peter Beardsley to name but a few.
But for me, Rafa has the potential to be the greatest ever signing Everton have made. Just as long as those numbskulls who call themselves supporters give him a chance. VNS