New Everton boss Rafael Benitez says success will win over fans who criticised his appointment.
The former Liverpool manager previously called the Toffees a “small club” after a draw in the Merseyside derby back in 2007.
The rivalry between the two clubs led to an threatening banner being left near his Merseyside home.
Asked about the comments he made about Everton, the former Newcastle United boss said he was fighting for the Liverpool badge at the time.
“It was a long time ago,” Benitez replied.
“If you are the manager, you have to defend your club in any context.
“In this case, I will fight for Everton, I will try to do my best every single game, and I will try to compete against anyone. I know how the team finished last year, and we will try to be sure that we can do better.
“We can talk the talk, but I prefer to walk the walk and hopefully everyone will be happy, starting with me. If I am happy, the fans will be very happy too.”
Benitez, who replaced Carlo Ancelotti after the Italian returned to Real Madrid last month, is the first manager since the 1800s to cross the Merseyside football divide.
He managed Liverpool from 2004 until 2010 and takes over an Everton team which faded last season to finish 10th in the Premier League after a great start under Ancelotti.
The Spaniard was also criticised by some Chelsea fans after being appointed in 2012 before going on to win a Europa League title with the club.
“The Evertonians around my place, they are quite happy and they were very supportive,” he added.
“Even the Liverpool fans were accepting that there is a chance for me to come back to the Premier League to compete for something, so it was quite good.
“Talking about the banner we can talk about one, two people, you never know. So then I think it’s better to think about positives, how a lot of people were encouraging me to do well, I’m happy with that.
“Even when I decided to start talking (to Everton), I was convinced that this is a great opportunity. So it’s not something that I am scared of, the opposite. I want to do well and what that means is to win.”
Speaking on his strategy to revive the hopes and aspirations of the club, the coach said there is a lot of improvement that is needed especially with bringing back the winning mentality.
“I have had conversations with senior players and I’m really pleased because they are ambitious and all of them realise that something is missing.
“It’s just the winning mentality that has to be there from the first day to the last day. Normally when you win trophies and you compete for something, it’s at the end of season, you have to be stronger. I’m confident we will do it.”
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By FARPost reporter