Gabby Agbonlahor believes Rafael Benitez at Everton could turn toxic – and the Aston Villa legend speaks from experience.
The Toffees boss welcomes his former club Liverpool to Goodison Park this evening, having won none of his last seven matches.
Despite a positive start, fans began to get behind Benitez’s back, and a heavy loss in the Merseyside derby would potentially threaten his job after just five months.
But Agbonlahor insists the Spaniard’s time at Everton was doomed from day one – due to his ties to Anfield.
The former Villa captain remembers when Alex McLeish was appointed his new manager just five days after leaving big rival Birmingham in 2011.
McLeish’s arrival was greeted with many protests and fans never warmed the Scotsman, who narrowly survived relegation in his only season in charge.
“I said it from the start when he [Benitez] signed, ”Agbonlahor told talkSPORT. “I was not happy because it reminded me a bit of when Alex McLeish came to Aston Villa.
“He had been Birmingham manager. I was not happy, a lot of fans were not happy. They were trying to enter the stadium to protest.
“I didn’t think it would work [for Benitez at Everton]. The first five or six games they were getting great results and, yes, Everton fans were okay with that.
“But I knew that once they got bad results Everton fans would turn around because of the success he had at Liverpool.
“They’re going to use this as an excuse to turn on him.
“If they lose, and lose badly, at Goodison Park, it’s going to be toxic.”
However, Liverpool hero Steve McManaman believes it is too early to judge Benitez at Everton.
The Toffees have suffered a number of significant injuries in recent weeks, particularly due to the absence of star forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
“I think it’s too early to say if he’ll lose his job if the outcome doesn’t go his way tonight,” McManaman told talkSPORT.
“I sure hope they don’t do that, it shouldn’t be a shock reaction. But stranger things have been done this year.
“If they lose heavily, you never know, but don’t think negatively.”