Rafa Benitez, the Everton manager, has never seemed to be Marcel Brands’ first choice, and their feud seems to have escalated on Wednesday night.
After a 4-1 loss to Liverpool, which left Benitez’s team 16 points behind their rivals, several fans were seen leaving Goodison Park early and another questioning captain Seamus Coleman, with Jordan Henderson and Diogo Jota scoring either side of a Mohamed Salah brace.
One supporter approached Brands directly, challenging the Dutchman’s role in hiring the players who had just suffered their sixth defeat in their past seven Premier League matches.
Brands’ statement, on the other hand, indicated ongoing conflicts with Benitez, which have been rumoured since the Spaniard’s arrival.
One Everton fan challenged Brands and chairman Bill Kenwright as they walked through a group of Everton fans, gesturing towards the players on the pitch and asking: “Did you recruit them?”
“Do you think it’s only the players?” responded the director of football, with supporters mistaking the statement for a jab at manager Rafa Benitez.
Given his time in management at Liverpool more than a decade ago, Benitez’s hiring at Everton was a contentious one.
Toffees officials allege Brands missed the manager’s first day at Finch Farm because he was self-isolated, therefore he didn’t sign the club statement welcoming him to the club.
“Integrity is, for me, a keyword in working with people together – not only with the manager but also with the people around me,” Brands said in a later statement.
“I’m someone people can rely on and that’s what I will also do with Rafa.”