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Everton legend Neville Southall has told talkSPORT he ‘fears’ Rafa Benitez being appointed the next Toffees manager, insisting fans will never ‘buy into’ having the ex-Liverpool boss in charge.
The legendary Toffees goalkeeper says the Spaniard has ‘balls of steel’ to want the job but is still not convinced by the move, and has reiterated his support for Duncan Ferguson to be handed the full-time reins.
talkSPORT understands Benitez is edging closer to the Goodison Park hotseat after extended talks with owner Farhad Moshiri, who is going ahead with the deal despite fierce opposition from supporters.
Angry fans have protested the ex-Liverpool manager’s possible move from the red to the blue half of Merseyside, and yet it is understood an agreement is close and his appointment could be announced as soon as early next week.
Southall has already warned the Toffees against the appointment, telling talkSPORT he will never be accepted by Bluenoses, and he didn’t appear to change his mind when asked on Saturday.
While he admits the decorated coach would be a decent appointment on a football basis, and admires his courage to want the job, he believes his Liverpool ‘baggage’ will be too much for supporters to get behind.
The Welshman said: “If you take Rafa, stone cold Rafa, out of that club [Liverpool], then he’s a really good manager.
“But what is he hoping to achieve by going to Everton?
“I think he’s got balls of steel, because if he goes in there and he doesn’t do well after six games, there’s going to be absolute mayhem.
“When you look at the squad, the squad needs building up, it needs a bit more pace, and yet he’s got to come in and turn that around.
“I fear for Rafa – are people going to give them the time to turn it around? If it was anybody else they’d have a bit of time, but Rafa coming with his baggage from Liverpool, I don’t think he’ll be given that time from the fans.
“The appointment in a cold, business sense, he is a decent manager, but on the flip side of that, he’s got to create a miracle in the first six or seven weeks.
“And unless they sign some unbelievable players in pre-season, how is he going to do that? The team is what it is, it’s a teeth placed team that is looking to improve. How’s he going to improve that? It’s going to be very difficult for him.”
Instead, Southall says handing club legend and Carlo Ancelotti’s number two Ferguson a one-year deal as manager would be the better option, albeit a ‘calculated risk’.
“You’ve got to remember that Dunc changed the club in three or four games, he started Ancelotti’s run,” the former goalkeeper added.
“He got all the fans back, he made the place more positive again and Ancelotti came along and moved that forward.
“You need to have Duncan there and why they want Duncan there is the loyalty he’s shown over the past God knows how many years as a player, a captain, a coach and now an assistant manager, they know he can take over the team.
“My first choice for the job would be Dunc, and we would have gone for it. He’s as ambitious as anyone else. When I speak to him, yeah he’d love the job.
“If you took Duncan now you’d have all the fans on your side, it would be a calculated risk but look who he’s learned under, look at his contacts book of names he can call up if he needs advice.
“The last managers to win things for Everton were ex-players. Joe Royal, Howard [Kendall] and Colin [Harvey], It’s a bit of a trend.
“Duncan knows everything about the club, he knows all the players, he’s got the knowledge from inside the club, He’s got good people around him.
“To me, if Rafa goes in there, he’s got to produce a miracle very quickly and I can’t see the fans buying into it.
“It’s going to be very anti and he’s going to have a lot to prove when he comes through the door.
“I admire his courage, I admire his spirit, but my fear for him is he won’t be given the chance that anybody else would be given because of his Liverpool baggage.”