Former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor has claimed that Everton manager Rafa Benitez only joined the club because it was “local”.
Benitez spent six years at Liverpool, winning the Champions League and FA Cup during his time at Anfield.
However, the Spaniard had to burn some bridges in order to take on his latest job at arch-rivals Everton.
Fans of the blue side of Merseyside were pessimistic to say the least when it was confirmed the 61-year-old would take over, but the Toffees started the season well.
They won four of their first five competitive matches under Benitez but a 3-0 loss to Villa on Saturday before being knocked out of the Carabao Cup by QPR on Tuesday has put him under some pressure.
And Agbonlahor – who spent the vast majority of his career at Villa Park – says he can’t understand why Benitez would join Liverpool’s rival.
“I can’t have Benitez, honestly, I was based on loyalty with Aston Villa,” he said.
“But you look at Benitez, his family, he lives in the area, he’s just chosen to go to Everton because it’s local.
“That’s like me finishing my career and saying, ‘alright Birmingham City, you know what, can you give me £5-10,000 a week and I’ll sign for you because it’s an extra payday because you’re local’ [there’s] something about Benitez I can’t have.”
Benitez has previously hinted the move was due to locality, saying: “Everton fans know I love the city of Liverpool, my team and I have been there many years and know how to make these people happy. Now the fans are enjoying how we are playing.”
Agbonlahor has also said he doesn’t see a way into the top six for the Toffees this season.
He added: “That squad of players, and they’re so light,” he said. “[Dominic] Calvert-Lewin out, Richarlison out, [Jordan] Pickford, [Seamus] Coleman, but that squad they’ve got there without those players, there’s no chance of that team finishing in the top six.
“I know they’ve had a good start but it can be a bit misleading the start to seasons, like last season, Everton had a good start and then they fell off.”