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‘It was a long time ago’ – New Everton boss Benitez defends calling Toffees a ‘small club’ during Liverpool spell

The Spaniard made the comments in 2007 and insists he will defend the club after taking over as manager

Everton manager Rafael Benitez has defended dismissing the club as “small” during his time as Liverpool coach.

Benitez made the comments after a draw in the Merseyside derby in 2007.

The Spaniard’s insult has circulated again since he was confirmed as the Toffees’ new boss and he insists they will have no impact on how he tackles his new job. 

What has been said?

Asked about the “small club” comments during a press conference on Wednesday, Benitez said: “I’ve said before, it depends on the context. It’s a long time ago and you are fighting for your club. That is what I will do now.

“If you are the manager you have to defend your club in any context. In this case I will fight for Everton, I will try to do my best every single game and I will try to compete against anyone.

“I’m really pleased that this club is getting bigger and bigger and I am happy with the idea we can challenge and we can compete and I will fight for that.”

Benitez addresses threatening banners

Many Everton fans protested against Benitez’s appointment as head coach.

A banner was left near the 61-year-old’s house warning him not to take the job, a matter which is being investigated by police.

But the Spaniard says there has been a lot of support since he accepted the role and is not worried about the anger of some fans. 

“The Evertonians around my place, they are quite happy and they were very supportive,” he said.

“Even the Liverpudlians, they were accepting it’s a chance and an opportunity for me to come back to the Premier League and to compete for something so it was quite good.

“Talking about the banners, we can talk about one, two people – you never know. I think it’s better to think about positives and how a lot of people were encouraging me to do well. I’m happy with that.

“I was convinced when I decided to say yes, or even decided to start talking. It’s not something I’m scared of, it’s the opposite. I want to win, I want to do well. That is to be competitive for me, to be ambitious.”

He added: “I am professional and very competitive. I have confidence that we’ve done it before, and we can do it now. We are creating an atmosphere that will allow us to compete at the maximum level.

“When I was in Chelsea, in Cobham, I was going to the supermarkets and the fans were really good. The majority of the fans every day were fine. Liverpool is my city, now obviously a lot of people on the Blues side will be pleased if I’m successful.”

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