EVERTON are flirting with the idea of appointing Rafael Benitez as their new manager, and my advice to them could not be clearer – don’t do it.
The prospect of a former Liverpool manager taking over at Goodison Park will send a shiver down the spine of many Evertonians, and some of my blue nose friends are not happy about it.
I saw former Everton keeper Neville Southall saying their fans will never accept Benitez as manager and I think he’s spot on.
Rafa will always be a Red and even though he has made Liverpool his home and I’m sure he would love the Everton job, he is not the right fit for them.
He would stabilise Everton, get them into the top half of the table next season and might even get them near a Cup final, but the style of football he promotes and the way he does things is not to everyone’s liking.
When Benitez is running a club, it’s his way or the highway and that’s not ideal if you are not one of his men.
Look at the way he treated Robbie Keane after he made his dream move to Liverpool in 2008.
Robbie is a top player and, like me, he dreamed of pulling on that red shirt and playing in front of The Kop.
He did well in the games he played for Liverpool, but there was a theory at the time that Benitez didn’t want him – and that chief executive Rick Parry was the man who pushed to sign Robbie.
As Rafa and Parry were not getting along, it looked like Robbie was used as a pawn in their battle and it was bang out of order.
Keane could have been a great striker for Liverpool if he had been given a chance by Benitez, but he would rather win a personal battle behind the scenes at the club than do what was best for the club.
Of course, there are two sides to the Benitez debate and there will always be plenty of Liverpool fans who will always hold Benitez in high esteem, as he was the manager who brought the fifth European Cup to the club on that famous night in Istanbul back in 2005.
It is an achievement that can never be taken from him, but there are some myths about that night that need to be popped.
First of all, he picked the wrong team to start that final in Istanbul, as Harry Kewell should not have started and the balance of the team was all wrong as AC Milan went 3-0 ahead.
Secondly, Benitez was about to take Djimi Traore off at half-time before Steve Finnan told him he was injured, and so he had to change his plans, which was a lucky break that went his way.
And thirdly, Steven Gerrard’s iconic performance dragged Liverpool to victory that night and gave Benitez the Champions League win that will always be on his record.
Rafa’s tactics were important in getting Liverpool through to that 2005 Champions League final and he was also inventive, as his side reached the 2007 final of that competition as well.
Yet the way it ended for him at Liverpool should not be forgotten.
He gave the green light for the club to sign way too many players who were not good enough to play for Liverpool reserves and you have to ask why those players ended up at the club?
I saw Andriy Voronin tweeting excuses for his terrible spell at Liverpool the other day and he is one of the misfits Rafa allowed to come through the doors at Anfield.
There was a long list by the time he left, but Benitez has done well for himself with some lucrative jobs at Inter Milan, Chelsea, Napoli, Real Madrid and Newcastle before adding to his healthy bank balance with a spell in coaching in China.
Management is a lucrative game these days as the guys at the top get paid huge amounts and even if they fail, they get multi-millions euro pay-offs.
Benitez is proof of that and you should see the house he lives on a clifftop with panoramic views of the River Dee on the Wirral.
It’s one of the biggest houses on Merseyside, but is he really the right man for Everton now?
I appreciate they want a big name because they couldn’t believe their luck when Carlo Ancelotti accepted the Everton job a couple of years back.
The trouble was, the minute a big job came his way at Real Madrid, Ancelotti dumped Everton in an instant.
Now Everton’s owners want to make another high-profile appointment, and Benitez may be one of the biggest names out there, but I don’t see him as the right fit for Everton on a number of levels.
He won the Europa League with Chelsea eight years ago and had an Italian Cup win with Napoli, but his glory days winning the Spanish title with Valencia and the Champions League with Liverpool are 15 years in the past.
So Everton will be taking a risk if they hire a man on the managerial merry-go-round, who changes clubs every couple of years.
That’s before we mention his infamous comment that Everton are a “small club”, muttered during his Liverpool days.
Whatever Benitez might have meant by that, there’s no doubt that Everton are a big club and they need a manager in place who believes they can get back to their glory days.
They have a new stadium on their horizon, wealthy owners who want to reach for the stars and this next managerial appointment is crucial in what they want to achieve.
In my view, Benitez is not the man they need to deliver on those ambitions, but it will be fascinating to see him trying to win over the Everton fans if he gets the job.