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RBM Roundtable: Rafa Benitez at Everton - Best & Worst Case Scenarios

Setting up some expectations for the new manager as he embarks on this journey

Everton Unveil New Manager Rafael Benitez Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Everton yesterday announced that they had appointed Rafa Benitez to be their new manager despite widespread protestations from the fanbase about his Liverpool link as well as some disparaging comments he had made about the Toffees when in charge at Anfield.

As we have done in the past, the writers at RBM got together to pen down some thoughts regarding expectations for the new manager, what could be considered the best turnout for his tenure with the Blues and also if it all goes wrong, what that could look like.

Best Case Scenario for Benitez at Everton

Trent - Benitez is able to continue the work that Don Carlo previously undertook post-Marco Silva to build the team into a consistent top seven team at minimum. This would mean that he can keep and recruit high quality players, is not the boss of yesterday so to speak, and can create and maintain a system that breeds offensive play and defending stoutly from front to back.
Given the right support, in cooperation with Marcel Brands, this could be a positive if not unexpected innovation.

Tom - Benitez makes a good start with a relatively soft schedule to ease some of the tension surrounding his appointment before building on the solid if unspectacular foundations laid by Carlo Ancelotti and securing a place in Europe next season.

Ian - Benitez’s experience in the Premier League and managerial pedigree are matched by Moshiri’s deep pockets, the Spaniard signs players he actually wants at the club and the Toffees embark on a season-long voyage that sees them qualify for Europe.
The 2021/22 season then becomes a building block in a long-term project to finally lift Everton out of irrelevance.

Pete - After joining the club, he says that he loves this city more than anything and although he fondly remembers his time at Liverpool, he says “Nil Satis Nisi Optimum” for Everton.
The Blues get off to a winning start in 2020/21 which instantly eases the pressure on him. We reach the top six in the first season and look to build from there.

Liverpool v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Pat - I would like Rafa to show his commitment to the project and put an end to the rumours of an “easy way” back into the Premiership; clarifying some of his past remarks about Everton would calm the supporters down a bit as well.
Rafa has plenty of experience in the league and elsewhere. While appointed later than I would have hoped, I believe Rafa has a chip on his shoulder which will hopefully encourage him to help propel the club to a European spot next season (and hopefully more).

Brian L - We get what we saw in the better moments of Ancelotti, Everton playing well and competing for a European place into the end of the season, maybe even with a European qualification.

Geno - Everton thrive under Benitez, play solid, enticing football and fight for a Champions League spot in the league. They also advance to the semifinals of one of either the FA Cup or the League Cup.

Matthew - Benitez proves me wrong and shows that he’s not, as I suspect, a manager in decline, and leads Everton back into Europe and ends their trophy drought. I still don’t think he’ll ever be loved by Evertonians, though.

Calvin - As with any manager choice we would have made, the best case I can hope for is to end the trophy drought and to go back to Europe, on a consistent basis.

Considering the amount of flak the Spaniard and the Board are already taking for this controversial decision, it won’t be a stretch to see everything going wrong for Rafa very quickly. What could that look like?

Worst Case Scenario for Benitez at Everton

Trent - The old Reds boss is a shadow of the manager who led Liverpool to Champions League and FA Cup glory. The team could flounder, lose players and ambition and continue to tread water in the middle of the table; should the team not gel, it could mean Brands alongside so many young players might leave the Toffees in the lurch going ahead.

Tom - He makes a poor start and the fans immediately get on his back, creating a toxic divisive atmosphere inside Goodison. Results then continue to suffer as a result and Benitez is eventually sacked, putting us back where we started.

Ian - Benitez turns out to be a poor man’s Carlo Ancelotti, he whiffs on his summer transfers and loses the locker room by December. I look at what happened when Rafa was managing Real Madrid — losing the respect of his players and being sacked shortly thereafter — as the worst-case scenario.
If things go south, Benitez’s tenure in charge at Goodison could greatly resemble those of Koeman and Silva...

Pete - Wears a red tie to work each day and is seen more at the golf course than the training ground. Despite a favourable start to the season in terms of fixtures, Everton struggle while playing truly woeful football. He’s sacked in November.

Pat - Some supporters may consider Rafa to already be walking on thin ice due to his past allegiances. If the supporters don’t back him and/or there’s a string of bad results, I’m afraid Rafa will be added to the list of Everton’s failed managerial hopefuls that we’ve seen far too often the past several years.
Rafa’s time at Everton may be short-lived if the team doesn’t hit the ground running and maintain a sense of consistency next season.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Everton v Liverpool - Goodison Park
Benitez with Sammy Lee
Photo by Barrington Coombs - PA Images via Getty Images

Brian L - He’s sacked in 5-6 months when the players don’t respond, his tactics are Allardyce-esque, and Goodison turns on him after the first ugly loss.

Geno - Everton have an awful start, capped off by getting shut out in the Derby and Everton are looking for a new manager once again by the start of the next calendar year.

Matthew - I feel Benitez already starts on the back foot with so many fans opposed to his appointment. With that in mind, if he doesn’t get off to a good start (with what is a pretty kind opening set of fixtures), I fear we could see the same sort of toxicity that epitomised the last days of Roberto Martinez and Marco Silva in particular - that Anfield defeat under the former and that Norwich game under the latter still haunt me.
I want Benitez to work, because that will mean he takes Everton forward, but I really worry it will end in tears or in a similar fashion to Carlo Ancelotti’s departure, and Everton will end up back at square one, having wasted yet more time and what feels to me a totally unnecessary appointment.

Calvin - The resentment continues to get worse instead of getting better, so that by the time the Blues play at home for the first time, Rafa is showered with a torrent of abuse and debris. The players get subdued by all this negative energy and play afraid and a couple of months into the season the manager and club part ways by mutual decision because nothing can fix this situation.