The Spaniard’s approach to tonight’s contest against his former side will have undoubtedly made for unwelcome reading in the eyes of current Reds boss Jurgen Klopp
The Spaniard is gearing up for his first game against Liverpool as the manager of Everton, as fans of both sides curiously wait to see what kind of reception he gets against a club so close to his heart.
Having been at the Reds helm for six years from 2004 to 2010, Benitez has long been viewed by much of the Anfield faithful as a legend of the club, particularly for his 2005 exploits; where he guided Liverpool to the most dramatic of Champions League victories.
However, a switch to the blue half of the city earlier this year has undeniably tarnished his Liverpool legacy in the eyes of some, though he will be out to annoy his former side in even further when the pair meet at Goodison Park.
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Current Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has clearly struggled to shake off the memory of his side’s last visit to the ground, which saw both Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara sustained severe injuries while the Toffees were under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti.
At least, his pre-match comments appear to suggest so – as the German explained the intensity of a Merseyside derby is “too much” for him to handle, even six years into his Anfield reign.
Pressed on whether he is excited for the prospect of metaphorically kicking the club’s rivals while they are down given Everton are without a league win since late September, Klopp revealed he is more concerned over the Toffees tactics for the game.
“It’s always a completely different game, so I really very often don’t like the intensity of the game, it’s too much for me,” he told Sky Sports.
“I like physical football, I have no problem with that, we play that, other teams play that, but in that game very often people put too much in.
“I can’t say it’s my favourite game of the year to be honest, because of that.”
Therefore, Klopp will feel at the very least unnerved by the comments of the man who will stand in the opposing dug-out to him when the whistle blows at Goodison Park.
Though Everton secured a shock 2-0 victory at Anfield last season, it has been over a decade since their have toppled Liverpool on their own turf.
Benitez remarks seem to read like a rally cry, urging his players to not be fearful of ‘leaving one on’ their Liverpool counterparts as Everton aim to halt their decline after a woeful run of form has seen them pick up just two points from a possible 21.
The Everton boss has claimed the message from him to his players before the game will be clear: “It is to do what we have to do to get the three points. When you are in a bad run you need physicality.”
Given the last time Everton adopted a similar to approach against their local rivals, Liverpool spent the remainder of the season without their talismanic centre-back, Klopp has every right to feel concerned.