Rafael Benitez has admitted that his history with Liverpool impeded him from taking certain crucial decisions during his tenure at Everton.
Benitez was at the helm at Anfield from 2004 to 2010 and won the Champions League, FA Cup and UEFA Super Cup during that period. In July 2021, the Spaniard risked the wrath of the Reds faithful when he returned to Merseyside to take charge of Everton.
Despite a promising start to the season, which led to the Blues sitting fourth in the table in early September, the Spaniard was relieved of his duties as Blues boss back in January after less than seven months in charge with Everton 15th in the Premier League table.
Benitez has now admitted that he refrained from making big calls at Goodison Park as he feared a backlash due to his history with Liverpool.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Benitez said: “At the time Everton came in with the offer, I knew I would give my best and do everything to try to improve things,”
🗣️ "Because I was red maybe I couldn't make some decisions"
Rafael Benitez says it was 'difficult' to manage Everton the way he wanted to due to his ties with rivals Liverpool. pic.twitter.com/efmMQnQ5zi
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 20, 2022
“I knew it could be difficult because I was at Liverpool, so maybe I couldn’t make some decisions. It was very clear for us at the beginning.
I had a meeting with a head of one of the departments and I asked him, ‘do you think everything is fine?’ He said, ‘yeah, everything is perfect’.
I thought ‘£600m had been spent, it cannot be perfect when the owners aren’t happy and the fans are not happy.’
“So I realised we had to change things inside, but I couldn’t do it straight away because I was a former Red and it could be seen as,. ‘oh, he’s come in to change our club’.
“In another club, I would have made those decisions. I did it in the past, because you know very clearly that is the way to improve, but there at Everton I couldn’t do it.”
Benitez was relieved of his duties in January 2022 following a 2-1 defeat at Norwich. The Toffees had won just once since September and had lost nine of their 13 league games, including a 4-1 home defeat to eternal rivals Liverpool. He was replaced by Frank Lampard, who narrowly steered them away from the relegation zone in the final weeks of last season.