Benitez has already clarified “small club” comments as Everton job edges closer

Rafa Benitez is edging closer to becoming the next Everton manager, but his comments about the Toffees being a “small club” continue to haunt him.

Ex- Liverpool and Newcastle boss Benitez is the front runner to be named as Carlo Ancelotti’s replacement at Goodison Park.

However, the Spaniard is far from a favourite with Everton fans thanks to his comments back in 2007 after a frustrating Merseyside derby, while also referred to Everton as “smaller” before the match.

Speaking after a goalless draw at Anfield, he said: “I was really disappointed because one team wanted to win the game and one team didn’t want to lose it.

Rafa Benitez has apologised to Everton fans for calling them a “small club”

“Everton put eight or nine men behind the ball and defended deep but that’s what small clubs do.

“When a team comes to Anfield and only want a point what else can you call them but a small club?”

However, last year Benitez took the chance to clarify the comments while taking to his former defender Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.

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The 61-year-old insists that it was a slip of the tongue in calling Everton a “small club”, and claims he has been congratulated by plenty of Toffees fans over the years for his work at Liverpool.

“I made a mistake when I said it was a small club,” he told MNF. “What I wanted to say was they are a small team because in this game I remember they had one chance.

“Liverpool fans they were happy and the Evertonians were upset. But I didn’t want to say they were a small club, I wanted to say they were a small team.

“Some Evertonians they come to me and say about what I did for the city, we have the charity, and all these things, so I have a very good connection with the city, not just the Liverpool fans.”

Benitez has strongly hinted at the prospect of taking over at Everton, insisting he is settled in Liverpool and wants to manage in the Premier League again after a brief spell in China with Dalian Professional.

He said: “I moved to China because there were no top sides here, so I needed to keep competing and doing my job.

Head coach Rafa Benitez of Dalian Yifang looks on during the 2019 Chinese Football Association (CFA) Cup semi-final match between Dalian Yifang and Shanghai Shenhua at Dalian Sports Center Stadium
Benitez was most recently in charge of Chinese side Dalian Yifang

“But at the moment I’m quite keen to stay in England, in Liverpool. I’m watching every Premier League game and sometimes Championship games so that I’m always ready.

“The priority is England, the Premier League, my family is here and I like the style of football here. I will try to be ready here.

“I am watching the Serie A because it is a good league for me but there, in France, in Germany, in Portugal, I don’t see too many options in these countries to have a project where you can develop players and make the team more competitive.”

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