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Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Police probe anti-Benitez banner ahead of reported Everton deal

AFP , Monday 28 Jun 2021
Rafael Benitez
File Photo: Former Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez gestures on the sideline during a match against Real Sociedad de Futbol at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on December 30, 2015 (Photo: AFP)
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Police are investigating a banner warning Rafael Benitez not to take over as Everton boss after the "threatening" protest sign was left near the former Liverpool manager's home.

A white sheet with the words 'We know where you live. Don't sign' was hung over a garden wall in the Wirral village of Caldy, where Benitez has retained a house since his spell with Liverpool.

The banner referred to Benitez's reported impending appointment as Everton manager, a move which has not gone down well with fans who remember his criticism of the Toffees during his time at Anfield.

"We can confirm police are investigating reports of a threatening banner at a location in Caldy today, Monday 28 June," a statement from Merseyside Police said on Monday.

"At around 7am, it was reported that a banner made from bed sheets had been placed over a wall and bushes on a residential driveway, with wording which is thought to target football manager Rafa Benitez."

There has been considerable opposition among some sections of Everton's fanbase to the likelihood of Benitez becoming Carlo Ancelotti's successor at Goodison Park.

Offensive banners have previously been put up at the stadium but this incident was close to Benitez's home.

"This message has understandably caused some distress and worry for residents in the area," Detective Inspector Darren Taylor said.

"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.

"If anyone has information about who produced the banner or helped to put it up, please let us know as soon as possible."

CCTV and witness enquiries are being carried out in the area.

Benitez won the Champions League and FA Cup in 2005 and 2006 respectively during his six-year Liverpool reign.

The 61-year-old has emerged as the front-runner to replace Ancelotti, who recently left Everton to take charge of Real Madrid.

Benitez left Chinese club Dalian Yifang in January after spells with Newcastle, Real Madrid, Napoli and Inter Milan.

Everton fans' animosity towards the Spaniard were raised above the usual level reserved for a Reds boss ever since his "small club" jibe after a 2007 Merseyside derby.

Benitez has since sought to clarify he was referring to what he believed was a 'small team' mentality from Everton in the game rather than as a club.

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