Everton fans have continued to voice their opposition to the imminent appointment of Rafa Benitez as manager, with a threatening banner left close to the home of the former Liverpool boss.
The sinister message, which read ‘We Know Where You Live. Don’t Sign’, was hung near to Benitez’s residence on the Wirral.
A picture of the banner was posted online, and received widespread condemnation from Toffees fans.
Why are Everton fans opposed to Benitez?
It is expected that Benitez’s appointment will be confirmed this week, after several rounds of positive discussions with the club’s board, but the 61-year-old’s past with Liverpool has led to opposition from many Everton fans.
Nobody has ever managed both Everton and Liverpool, and Benitez clashed with the Goodison Park club while in charge at Anfield between 2004 and 2010.
The most infamous incident came in 2007, when he referred to the Toffees as “a small club” following a Merseyside derby. In a later interview, published in 2011, Benitez attempted to clarify those comments.
"I didn't want to be disrespectful to the club,” he said. “I was talking about the way they were playing, not the club.”
Everton fans, though, have not forgotten. Banners were hung outside Goodison Park when news of the club’s intentions emerged earlier this month. ‘Benitez not welcome’ read one. Others were far less polite.
Will the club think twice about appointing him?
It appears not, at this stage. Everton have been searching for a manager since Carlo Ancelotti’s shock resignation and return to Real Madrid earlier this month.
Nuno Espirito Santo and Eddie Howe have been linked, while former bosses David Moyes and Roberto Martinez were also considered, but Benitez, who is without a job having left Chinese
Super League side Dalian Professional in January, has emerged as the No 1 contender having impressed majority owner Farhad Moshiri and director of football Marcel Brands in talks.
He last managed in the Premier League with Newcastle, leaving in 2019 having guided the Magpies to 10th and 13th-placed finishes in his two full seasons in the top-flight. Previously, he had led them to promotion from the Championship in 2017.
It remains to be seen whether Moshiri and Brands will perform a u-turn in the face of growing opposition from the club’s supporters. Sources close to the situation suggest not, but rarely, if ever, has a managerial appointment prompted such anger from fans.