After a season with mixed results, Carlo Ancelotti left Goodison Park to return to Real Madrid – the Italian manager has signed until 2024. This means that The Toffees are in need of a new manager. After a lot of speculation on which of the candidates will be hired, it seems that the contender with the best chances may Rafa Benitez

His signing may be a lot like a casino promotion where you get an attractive offer at the beginning but you need to work for it to turn it into real value. Benitez has shown that he has the potential for pulling this off. But his past follows him to Goodison Park – Evertonians haven’t forgotten his remarks from 14 years ago.

Backlash

Evertonians expressed their discontent with Farhad Moshiri’s choice for the team’s new manager in a variety of ways, most of them involving not-too-flattering names, both spoken and spray-painted in various locations. The reason: his comments about Everton after a Merseyside derby back in 2007.

At the time, Benitez called Everton a “small club” and expressed his disappointment because “one team wanted to win the game and one team didn’t want to lose it”. 

The Evertonians didn’t forgive the Spaniard to this day for his belittling remarks, not to mention the fact that he was the manager of their arch-rivals, Liverpool, for years.

No formal offer – yet

The backlash coming from the Evertonians may not be enough to convince Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri to reconsider his decision to hire Benitez. Reports speak of the two having another round of discussions that have cemented the Spaniard in the position of the leading candidate.

Apparently, the Iranian billionaire is well aware of the Evertonians’ feelings about this choice but is also willing to proceed in spite of them. While a formal offer is yet to be made, there’s growing confidence that one is on its way. This doesn’t mean that no other candidate has been considered – in the three weeks since Ancelotti walked out, the club has spoken to a number of other managers, like Nuno Espirito Santo or Roberto Martinez. But there’s no time to waste, as the team is due at Finch Farm on the 5th.

Benitez in a nutshell

Rafa Benitez had the chance to become a world-class player in the early 1980s but an injury resulting from a hard tackle sidelined him for a year. By the mid-80s, he retired entirely, dedicating his time to training others. In his early years, he managed teams like Real Madrid’s U19 side that won the Spanish U19s Cup in 1991 and 1993. After a few years with lack of success, he was appointed coach of Valencia and helped the team earn the La Liga title and win the UEFA Cup in 2004. Then, due to disagreements over signings, he left Valencia for Liverpool where he stayed for six years. After leaving Anfield, he was appointed interim manager at Chelsea – he was received with fierce hostility for remarks he made about the Blues while still at Liverpool (sounds familiar?). Then he moved around Europe at teams like Napoli, Real Madrid, and Newcastle before joining the Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional where he stayed until this January – he left because of health-related concerns.

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