Rafa Benitez admits Liverpool ties held him back at Everton

    Rafael Benitez admits his history with Liverpool prevented him making difficult decisions during his time at Everton.

    The Spaniard’s appointment last summer was controversial from the outset due to his six-year association with their Merseyside rivals but he believed he could do a job at Goodison Park.

    But after 10 points from his first four Premier League matches to only be denied top spot on goal difference, the form of his side – who crucially lost striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin to injury for more than four months – dropped off a cliff.

    Benitez was sacked in January after just one win in 13 league matches but the 62-year-old regrets not making more changes to the club’s structure.

    However, during his short spell at the club the head of the medical department and top figures in the scouting and recruitment changed, while a difference of opinion saw director of football Marcel Brands depart just over a month before Benitez left.

    “I thought we could improve everything…in terms of staff, departments, squad, things like that,” he told Sky Sports.

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    “It was a nice time in terms of experience and a shame at the same time.

    “You have to analyse the context. At the time Everton came in with the offer [people said] ‘you were with Liverpool it could be a problem’ but I have a lot of friends who are Blues and they knew I would give everything to do my best and to improve things.

    “I knew it could be difficult but because I was Red 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’.

    WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, November 1, 2021: Everton's manager Rafael Benítez during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Everton FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    “I thought, ‘£600 million had been spent, it cannot be perfect when the owners aren’t happy and the fans are not happy it cannot be perfect’.

    “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 at Everton I couldn’t do it.”

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