Sam Allardyce reveals why he used to 'wind up' Rafa Benitez ahead of Newcastle's visit to Everton
Everton manager Sam Allardyce insists his "hurtful" dismissal byÂ Newcastle UnitedÂ over a decade ago has been consigned to the past.
The 63-year-old lasted just eight months at St James's Park as fans quickly turned against him but since then he has gone on to take charge of Blackburn, West Ham, Sunderland, England and Crystal Palace before arriving at Goodison Park in November as Ronald Koeman's successor.
"It's been that long I have nothing but respect for the football club," said Allardyce ahead of tomorrow night's game against Newcastle. "It felt unjust, but I have moved on.
"From a difficult period they have managed to recover and get in the Premier League and they have turned it round.
"They have put together a run of games, and we'll see a better Newcastle than we saw up there (when Everton won 1-0 in December).
"Rafa (Benitez) has progressed very well. He has always expressed his disappointment with not enough funds. We can all say we don't have enough funds.
"What he has managed with the funds he has, particularly in the January months, has been excellent."
Allardyce famously had a spat with Rafa Benitez when they were respective managers of Bolton and Liverpool as he felt the Spaniard did not show him and his side enough respect.
That feud, however, is also long forgotten.
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Asked about his history with Benitez, Allardyce replied: "There is none. That's water under the bridge and 15 years ago when he just got here.
"I was winding up anyone I could and it worked well at times. That doesn't happen now.
"I wouldn't go back to that. I'm too long in the tooth and mature for it."
Allardyce is keen to push his ninth-placed side towards consolidating a top-10 finish in their remaining four matches.
Leicester City, two points ahead, are the only team in their sights, but Everton's manager believes it is important to finish strongly after an up and down campaign.
"We want to finish in the top half if we can. You want to finish well because it's been a lot of turmoil this season," he said.
"The only reason I'm here is the team wasn't good enough before I got here. That was the opinion of the board.
"I came in to sort that out and we have managed to achieve a certain amount of success. We would have liked more.
"There's a level of consistency in the side compared to home and away. The point against Swansea was good because they beat three teams above them in Burnley, Arsenal and Liverpool."