McLeish delivers verdict on Everton appointing Benitez as he recalls his Birmingham-Aston Villa switch
Alex McLeish has claimed Rafael Benitez must take Everton into the top six of the Premier League to win over the fanbase.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Scotland boss admitted the 61-year-old faces a “rough ride” at Goodison Park.
Everton confirmed Benitez’s appointment on Wednesday afternoon (June 30th).
Football Insider revealed on June 25th the former Liverpool boss had chosen to defy the advice of allies to accept the post.
His arrival comes just days after Sky Sports reported a threatening banner, believed to be aimed towards the Spaniard, was found near his family home.
McLeish admitted Benitez was heading into a volatile atmosphere at Goodison Park.
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He suggested the only way to get fans onside would be to take them into the European spots.
McLeish told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “I’ve had an experience like that going from Birmingham to Aston Villa. Not fans threatening me, by any means, but just with the appointment.
“What Everton fans are looking for is, with the players they do have at their disposal at this particular moment, is to be finishing in that top four to six.
“They’ve been between sixth and tenth over the past few years. That’s what will matter most to them. I must say, it is difficult coming into a club when you know that you haven’t had a great welcome.
“Benitez is a very experienced man so he should be able to handle this season. It was a tough season for me but at the same time, it could be tough for Rafa.
“If he gets the results that push Everton up that table, fans will probably say: ‘Right, we’re with him.’
“There will be a bit of a rough ride, for sure. I said I’ve got to prove to them that I can do the job here.”
Everton finished 10th in the table during the recently-concluded campaign, six points off the top six.
Leeds United, Arsenal and Tottenham were the teams between the Toffees and West Ham in sixth.