Rafa Benitez is moving closer to being named manager of Everton.

If it happens, the appointment would generate much discussion on both the red and blue side of Merseyside.

There will be some hysteria, with some going OTT and claiming they won’t go back to Goodison Park.

There is also the matter of Benitez referring to Everton as a ‘small club’ in February 2007.

Liverpool v Everton
(Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

After a 0-0 draw in a Merseyside derby at Anfield, Benitez said, as per the Mirror: “I was really disappointed because one team wanted to win the game and one team didn’t want to lose it.

“Everton put eight or nine men behind the ball and defended deep but that’s what small clubs do.

“When a team comes to Anfield and only want a point what else can you call them but a small club?”

But Benitez was on Monday Night Football in December 2019 and clarified his comments on that occasion.

What did Benitez say about Everton?

He said he meant to say that Everton defended like a ‘small team’ that day and refused to rule out managing the club one day.

It was clearly an appealing prospect to him then, allowing him to come back to the Premier League and be closer to his family.

Of course this won’t stem the strength of feeling in some quarters about appointing a former Liverpool manager at Goodison Park.

Especially one who prefers a defensive, methodical style of play as opposed to a front-foot approach which would get Goodison rocking.

If Benitez is confirmed as Everton manager, the chatter will rumble on and on – but he has sought to clarify his ‘small club’ comments already.