Benitez hoping to curtail Everton

30122012C-Rafael-BenitezRafael Benitez has been bracing himself for a hot reception at Everton on Sunday despite refusing to repeat his small-club jibe ahead of his first match on Merseyside as Chelsea boss.

Interim Blues manager Benitez will take a team to Goodison Park this weekend for the first time in more than three years but the passage of time is unlikely to spare him the role of pantomime villain.

The Spaniard is still suffering a backlash from his own club’s fans, whose revolt against his appointment was galvanised by criticism they perceived him to have levelled at them while Anfield boss back in 2007.

That was also the year Benitez branded Everton one of the Barclays Premier League’s “smaller teams”, something that provoked a furious response from Liverpool’s arch-rivals.

Everton fans devised plenty of unpleasant chants about Benitez during his six years at Anfield and he said, “I don’t think they will be supporting me the whole time but the main thing for me is that my players do their job.”

The Spaniard, who still lives on the Wirral near Liverpool, added, “I have a good relationship with people in the city and what I expect is to find a manager up there with a team who want to win.”

Quizzed about his small-club jibe ahead of Sunday’s game, Benitez joked, “You have a good memory.”

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