Former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant has warned Alex Iwobi and his Everton teammates that newly appointed manager Rafa Benitez lacks Man-Management skills and they could ‘stagnate’ under the Spaniard.
Pennant says he didn’t get on with Benitez at Liverpool claiming Steven Gerrard was practically ‘player-manager’ of their Reds side.
Everton’s preparations for their first season of the Benitez era have begun, with a pre-season trip to the United States later this month, before their final warm-up game against Manchester United at Old Trafford, with a Premier League opener to come at home to Southgampton on August 14.
Benitez has even made his first signings as manager in the blue half of Merseyside, with Everton announcing the arrivals of Andros Townsend and Asmir Begovic on free transfers.
His arrival at Goodison Park divided fans, to say the least. Opinion is seemingly split, with some supporters getting behind their new boss, while others have vowed to never forget his previous allegiance to their arch red rivals.
Pennant worked under Benitez for all three years of his career at Anfield, where he was part of the team that reached the 2006/07 Champions League final, only to lose to Milan.
And he explained how he was more scared of Gerrard than the manager in the dressing room, and how he wasn’t the only Liverpool star who struggled to work for Benitez.
“Look, it’s different for every player, different players will react differently with Rafa,” the former winger said on the talkSPORT Breakfast.
“But in my eyes he wasn’t a great man-manager. His skills in that department were lacking.
“Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher have also made this publicly known as well, that they felt it was difficult.
“I felt it was difficult to approach him, have a conversation and maybe talk about certain situations on and off the pitch.
“He wouldn’t come up to you, he wouldn’t grab you by the side and have a chat about whatever you need to discuss. He kind of left it to Gerrard.
“Especially to big games, at half-time if things weren’t going very well, it wouldn’t be him pointing fingers and shouting instructions and telling you what needs to be done to win this game, it would have been Steven coming in giving you an effing and blinding.
“Playing back then, I wouldn’t want to annoy Gerrard first, and then my manager. Steven was the player-manager!
“I think every player will take it differently with him.”
And Pennant doesn’t believes his former Liverpool boss will enjoy success on his return to Merseyside, on the opposite side of Stanley Park.
Instead, he expects the Toffees to be ‘stagnant’ under Benitez.
“Is he going to light it up at Everton? Is he going to take them to the next level? Personally I don’t think he will. Sorry Everton fans!
“He’s a legend at Liverpool for that famous game, coming back from 3-0 down in the Champions League, which was Gerrard-driven 100 per cent and I know that.
“After Liverpool you look where he’s been… Newcastle he didn’t really set them alight, he kept them afloat.
“I just feel he’s going to be a little bit stagnant at Everton.
“With the signings he’s made, again they’re free transfers and they’re not going to light the team up and take them to the next step. Are they going to make more signings? We’ll see.
“Rafa, I’ve got nothing against you, mate, but everyone’s got an opinion!”
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