The Punch

Everton fans are behind me, insists Benitez

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RAFAEL Benitez insists he has the support of Everton fans despite the backlash to his controvers­ial appointmen­t as manager of the Premier League club.

Prior to Benitez’s arrival at Goodison Park last month, Everton fans warned the former Liverpool boss not to sign by hanging a threatenin­g banner close to his home.

But the incident, which is being investigat­ed by Merseyside Police, did not prevent Everton hiring the Spaniard to succeed Carlo Ancelotti.

“To be fair, the Evertonian­s around my place are quite happy and were very supportive. Even the Liverpudli­ans accepted it was an opportunit­y for me to come back to the Premier League. It was quite good,” Benitez told reporters on Wednesday. “Talking about the banners, we can talk about one or two people. You never know. It is better to think positive, how a lot of people were encouragin­g me to do well. I am happy with that.”

Benitez is a Liverpool legend after guiding the Reds to Champions League glory in 2005. He also infuriated Everton supporters during his time at Anfield by referring to the Toffees as a “small club” after a goalless draw in 2007.

Benitez has claimed that was only a criticism of Everton’s defensive tactics rather than the club’s history.

“It was a long time ago. You are fighting for your club and that is what I will do now,” Benitez said.

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• Benitez

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