England reached the final of Euro 2020, while the Premier League is living its own life and, it seems, does not pay much attention to it. Manchester United made an agreement with Dortmund about Jadon Sancho, Tottenham appointed Nuno Espírito Santo, but Everton made the most noise with their deal. Rafael Benitez replaced Carlo Ancelotti, who left for Real Madrid.
Just a fact to begin with: Benitez is the second manager in history to have worked at both Liverpool and Everton. The first was William Barclay back in the 19th century. He first headed Everton (1888-1889) and then worked at Liverpool (1892-1896).
Where’s the controversy?
In case you forgot, these two clubs are eternal rivals, even if the Merseyside derby is called friendly. Therefore, from the very beginning, the possible appointment of Benitez caused a protest from the fans of Everton.
Liverpool fans reacted more calmly: for them, it is somewhat a reason to troll the neighbours, because Benitez spent 6 years with the Reds, won the Champions League (the legendary final with Milan) and almost took the Premier League. And The Toffees trophy cabinet looks empty.
Benitez has been living in Liverpool for a long time and during the active phase of negotiations near his house, which Rafa bought while working at Liverpool, a banner appeared with threats: “We know where you live. Don’t sign!”.
By the way, about the negotiations: the owner of the club, Farhad Moshiri, consulted with the owner of Chelsea, Roman Abramovich, and he recalled Benitez extremely positively. After the removal of Di Matteo, Rafa worked as an interim manager at Chelsea for the 2012/13 season and won the Europa League, which was unexpected to all. Especially if you followed the odds during the tournament at different bookmakers, presented at https://bookmaker-ratings.com/ and checked the results of the club in the league on the same website.
It is Moshiri who has been making all the key decisions on coaches since 2016. For example, the board of directors opposed Sam Allardyce as a coach, but this did not bother the Iranian.
The fans are enraged
The main complaints of fans against Benitez are related to the coach’s past. Many believe that all his successes remained in the 00s, and work in China or Newcastle does not add up to ambitious fans at all. The appointment was condemned even by outsiders, such as Aston Villa legend Gabriel Agbonlahor and Everton TV presenter and supporter Richard Keyes.
The Everton fans are getting more and more accustomed to the idea that their next coach will be the most ruthless, selfish, ambitious person in the world, so the plan worked to some extent. But the real problems are not on the surface again.
This partnership will end badly. Benitez will pursue his ideas again, presenting them as the interests of the club. So he managed to fool the audience at Newcastle by starting a fake war with Mike Ashley, in which he knew he would never win. And when the time came, he left for a “long-term” project in China.
Never mind that he coached Liverpool. His best years are far behind, and there are many better options. Moshiri was again grossly mistaken. He did badly not to the devoted fans but to the staff of the club, who do not want to work with Benitez.
But not everyone is negative: some sources claim that Benitez’s appointment will be very beneficial for striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin and defender Ben Godfrey, as the Spaniard will help them to reach the next level. Another clear plus is that Benitez is a workaholic, he loves to work with the players on the training ground and spend a lot of time at the base (contrast with Ancelotti, who gave training to his son and shifted a lot to other assistants).
Benitez is 61, but he is still in shape and follows new trends in football: for a manager who’s six months without work, Rafa did not lose focus and watched matches and players every day. He has a database, which contains records even 20 years ago. Benitez began working out a plan for Everton long ago and has already started to implement it.