Given his previous tenure across Stanley Park and the comments he had made at the time about Everton Football Club, it was always going to be a controversial choice making Rafa Benitez the next manager of the Toffees.
Yet, the Everton Board and in particular the majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri made exactly that decision when the club confirmed today that Benitez had been appointed the new gaffer to lead the Blues for the next three seasons.
In an interview with the club website, the businessman noted why he had made the Spaniard his pick to lead the club.
“Over the past few weeks we have conducted a very thorough search for a new manager and, after speaking with several very strong contenders, he stood out as the best candidate.
“We wanted a manager with experience of managing at the highest level, who has a strong track record of delivering success, who can work within our structure and who fully buys into our vision for the future. Rafa ticks all of those boxes and he impressed us in the interview process with his passion, his ambition and his vision.
“I know he has had other offers from other clubs - but he was focused on proving to us he has the credentials and the qualities for the job here. That passion and determination for this role – and to be successful here - really shone through.”
After the departure of veteran manager Carlo Ancelotti over the summer, many had thought that the Toffees would look towards bringing in a younger man with more to prove in the mould of Ronald Koeman and Marco Silva, but Moshiri explained why experience was critical for the Blues.
“We want to be playing in European competitions and challenging for silverware at home and abroad - so it was vitally important we have a manager who has been there and understands what it takes to achieve that level of success.
“Rafa has managed clubs with big expectations and won some of the biggest trophies in the game. He’s a proven winner. We are confident that his winning mentality will bring success to us at Everton.
“He has one of the most impressive CVs in world football. He knows how to build winning football teams. Look at the job he did at Valencia, for example. At a time when Real Madrid and Barcelona were investing heavily in global superstars, against all odds he led Valencia to their first La Liga title in 31 years, and then added another La Liga title and a UEFA Cup for good measure. He has demonstrated at a number of clubs he can help them take the next step – and step up to the very highest level.
“We spoke to many people in the game during our search and the feedback we had on Rafa was extremely positive. He’s considered to have one of the best tactical minds in the game and I think his experience and know-how will be vital in helping us to push up the table and into the European places. In our personal meetings with him, that vast knowledge and footballing intelligence was very evident – and very impressive.”
In the month since Ancelotti left, over a dozen names were considered by the club, with seemingly a new candidate popping up every day as the interview process dragged on. Moshiri confirmed that the club wanted to leave no stone unturned in their search for who they felt was the best fit for the job, leaving unsaid that it was in spite of whatever backlash that would result from that choice.
“It was important for us to take our time and find the right person. We identified the qualities we wanted, and then spoke with various candidates. It was a thorough and extensive process.
“We were determined to do our due diligence, identify a shortlist of strong candidates who fit into our vision for the Club and, ultimately, appoint the right man - and I believe we have done this.”
Moshiri also talked about what he was expecting to see from Benitez’ Everton as opposed to what he had seen from the five previous managers that had taken charge during his time at the club, as well as keeping club legend Duncan Ferguson on staff.
“A team that has a winning mentality and can compete towards the top of the Premier League. A team that fights for the shirt. And a team the fans can be proud of.
“Yes, that was really important - and Rafa was just as keen to see that happen. He made it clear to us he wanted Duncan to be a key part of his backroom team. He knows he has incredible passion for Everton and a wonderful connection with the fans. But, on top of that, the manager also knows the strengths Duncan can bring to his coaching team.”
From the pictures in the club gallery, it looks like Leighton Baines and Alan Kelly will also be staying on a coaching staff.
The majority shareholder ended the interview with a message for all Evertonians, thanking them for their support.
“I know that the last few weeks have not been an easy time for our supporters so I’d like to thank them for their patience throughout this process. Hopefully now we can come together and be confident about our plans on and off the field. There are some exciting times ahead and I hope the supporters know that they have my full commitment in terms of delivering our ambitions.”