Rafa Benitez is close to taking over as Everton manager following positive talks with the club’s board according to reports on Thursday.
The Spaniard is in prime position to be offered the Everton manager’s job after a third round of talks with the club’s hierarchy in the week.
And if he were to take the job, he would become the first man to manage both Merseyside clubs, having won the Champions League and the FA Cup during a six-year spell at Anfield.
Everton are taking their time to appoint a successor to Carlo Ancelotti, who left to take over at Real Madrid.
Nuno Espirito Santo, who left Wolves at the end of last season, has also been considered and remains a candidate but it’s the former Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle manager Benitez, who is now the firm favourite.
Benitez managed Everton’s rivals Liverpool from 2004 to 2010 and lifted the Champions League, FA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup during his time at Anfield.
He joined Chelsea on an interim basis in 2012 and went on to win the Europa League and guide the Blues to a third-placed finish in the Premier League that season.
After stints at Real Madrid and Napoli, Bentiez moved to Newcastle in 2016 and oversaw their relegation from the top flight.
He then steered Newcastle to a return to the Premier League in 2016/17 as they were promoted as Championship champions.
Over the next two seasons, the club achieved 10th and 13th-placed finishes in the top flight under Benitez before he left St James’ Park in 2019.
But his appointment would be contentious as many Everton fans were angered when he described them as a “small club” following a drawn Merseyside derby in February 2007.
“Rafa Benitez coming to the club would be a very, very strange one,” Rhys from Everton Blue Army tells FansBet.
“It’s hard not to say that it’d split the fanbase. Some love his “winning mentality”, others hate his Liverpool connection. I simply just don’t want him because I don’t think he’s a very good manager in 2021.
“His success was all years ago, he didn’t do especially well anywhere really in the last 5 years, and his football would be hated by Everton fans.”
But it’s not just the possible appointment of Benitez that concerns Rhys, the way in which former boss Carlo Ancelotti left the club has given him to worry too.
“The departure of Carlo Ancelotti hurt the fans,” he says. “He talked a really good game about loving it here and wanting to be here for years and then he was off at the first bit of interest from another club.
“You feel like you’ve been conned. Then you look back at the last 18 months and realise that his football wasn’t actually that great, we didn’t play particularly well and then you start to think you were simply blinded by the name of Carlo Ancelotti, not seeing how poor we were.
“It’s not a step forward, but I don’t know if it’s a step backward either. It feels like we’re downgrading from Carlo Ancelotti, but at the end of the day, was the club really going anywhere?
“It’s tough to say. We’re in a big, big mess – have been for a while – and I think this is just yet another wake-up call for us.”
“Rafa Benitez joining Everton would be one of the worst appointments the club could make in my opinion,” he told FansBet.
“You look at his past with Liverpool and the comments he made, which is obviously a big deciding factor already for majority of Evertonians, but is he really the type of manager Everton should be looking at?
“A manager that is on the decline and has been for some time as his move to China showed that. The appointment, if it is to happen, would split the fanbase massively and Benitez would be on the back foot already, if results didn’t start off well I could only see this heading in one direction.
“Benitez should be very bottom of the pile of names or probably shouldn’t even be in the running. The right move now for the club would be to hire a manager which some prospect, somebody hungry and striving to succeed.
“Nuno Espirito Santo is a name that didn’t inspire many Everton fans when first hearing it and it didn’t even inspire myself but I think even Nuno would be a smarter option.
“The Everton and Liverpool rivalry is a big one of course and not many players make the switch over Stanley Park and for Benitez to possibly make it would leave a sour taste in any Evertonians mouth.
“Farhad Moshiri is facing a critical and probably the most important time of his ownership at Everton and if he were to make the appointment of Benitez I think he would find that a lot of Everton fans would not be very supportive of him anymore.”
Leave a comment
Follow Matthewjcrist on Twitter