Rafael Benitez can win over Everton supporters by defeating Liverpool in the first Merseyside derby of the season, says former Toffees defender Michael Ball.
Some Everton fans were far from happy with the club’s decision to appoint Benitez as manager following his spell with their city rivals.
During that time, the Spaniard called Everton a “small club”, comments which he has since clarified.
However, he will have to do more than that if he is to win over all of the Evertonians, and Ball believes beating his old side could go a long way towards accomplishing that.
In an exclusive interview with FFC, the ex-Everton full-back said:
“I think the big question mark is when obviously the first Merseyside derby comes along. How does he set up? Is he positive enough? Do we get a positive result?
“If that happens and he turns them over, I think a lot of Blues will start to back him a bit more. You know, some fans are saying that they won’t even turn up at Goodison Park. I think they’ll start coming back if that happens.”
The first league encounter between the two sides will take place in November, with Everton welcoming their neighbours.
As for the beginning of the campaign, the Toffees have some very favourable fixtures. They do not play anyone from last season’s top six until the start of October, a trip to Manchester United, so Benitez has a chance to build some real momentum here.