Merseyside police have launched an investigation after a banner threatening former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez should he join city rivals Everton was reportedly found near the Spaniard’s family home in north-west England.
The banner, which was a white sheet with crudely-drawn black lettering, read “We know where you live. Don’t sign” and was said to have been placed in an area close to the home in the Wirral that Benitez has occupied since his time with Liverpool between 2004 and 2010.
However, police said that the attempted aggressors placed the banner outside a house which was not owned by Benitez, suggesting that the premise of the protest is slightly skewed.
To do this to someone’s family, outside the family home, is an absolute disgrace.
A step too far completely. We’re better than this as a fanbase 🔵 pic.twitter.com/Z7Wrcr7T8i
— The Bobble (@ElMuchachoEFC) June 28, 2021
The reason for the threatening banner is linked to rumors that Benitez is set to replace Carlo Ancelotti as Everton’s new manager, in a move which would be a rarity in crossing the divide between the bitter Merseyside rivals.
Similar banners expressing opposition to Benitez’s potential appointment were placed outside of Everton’s Goodison Park when reports first emerged that Benitez has been identified as the primary candidate for the job by the club’s majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, but the more aggressive tone in the banner placed close to his family home represents a significant escalation.
“This message has understandably caused some distress and worry for residents in the area. Due to the football language used, we suspect that it was aimed at Rafa Benitez – but whoever placed the message left it outside the wrong house,” said Detective Inspector Darren Taylor of the Merseyside police.
“If anyone has information about who produced the banner or helped to put it up, please let us know as soon as possible.”
It is unclear if the manner of the protest will have any tangible impact on the talks between Benitez and Moshiri, with both parties understood to have largely agreed terms on what would be a three-year deal to install the former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Chelsea boss on the blue side of the Mersey.
Much of the fan distrust in Benitez comes from his tenure as Liverpool boss, where in 2007 he had described Everton as a “small club” – words which still produce much rancor in the stands at Goodison.
Benitez’s achievements in the game are without dispute, however. The 61-year-old has coached two Champions League finals, winning one of them, among his several trophies at Valencia, Liverpool and Chelsea – but it appears that the toughest test of his extensive career might just be to convince the the Everton faithful that he is the right man for the job.
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“Who do Everton actually think they are? They have not won one trophy in my lifetime. Should be lucky to have Rafa, one of the most successful managers in the last 20 years,” said one fan online.
“Far too many of our ‘fans’ are too thick to understand that part of BEING a fan is getting behind a new manager, whoever it is. Nothing wrong with not wanting him, we’re all entitled to our opinions, but when they sign on that line it’s time to shelve your opinion & support them,” said another.
“Think some fans need to remind themselves of the contributions Rafa has made to the city, and most importantly his great charity work towards the Hillsborough disaster,” came the thoughts of a third.