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Everton 2021/22 Season Preview: Manager

Rafa Benitez appears to have taken on a tall task at the Toffees

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


Rafa Benitez Manager Stats

Team Games Won Drawn Lost Goals For Goals For/Gm Goals Against Goals Against/Gm Pts/Gm
Team Games Won Drawn Lost Goals For Goals For/Gm Goals Against Goals Against/Gm Pts/Gm
Newcastle United 100 33 23 44 124 1.24 131 1.31 1.22
Real Madrid 25 17 5 3 69 2.76 22 0.88 2.24
Napoli 112 61 26 25 219 1.96 139 1.24 1.87
Chelsea 48 28 10 10 99 2.06 49 1.02 1.96
Inter Milan 25 12 6 7 41 1.64 28 1.12 1.68
Liverpool 350 197 74 79 598 1.71 309 0.88 1.90
Valencia 157 87 38 32 252 1.61 125 0.80 1.90
Ancelotti (EFC) 67 31 14 22 93 1.39 88 1.31 1.60
Silva (EFC) 60 24 11 25 89 1.48 85 1.42 1.38
Allardyce (EFC) 26 10 7 9 31 1.19 32 1.23 1.42
Koeman (EFC) 58 24 14 20 85 1.47 74 1.28 1.48
Martinez (EFC) 143 62 37 44 239 1.67 192 1.34 1.56
Moyes (EFC) 518 221 133 164 743 1.43 635 1.23 1.54
Average (EFC) 145 62 36 47 213 1.44 184 1.30 1.50
Rafa Benitez Managerial Career (top flight only), compared to last twenty years of Everton managers Transfermarkt

What is most striking when comparing Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle era (top flight only) with all the managers Everton have had this century is that if you look at the stats for the average Everton manager, it’s nearly a third of a point per game (11 points over a 38 game season).

When he’s had better squads, naturally he’s done better but apart from Liverpool he has not had much tenure at any of the other clubs.


Benitez has been a bit of a tactical chameleon over his career, successfully adapting formations to whatever squads he has, changing to whatever has worked best for him in that time. While he prefers a 4-2-3-1, he has prized defensive stability above all else and used the 5-4-1 to great effect at Newcastle, making them difficult to play against and keeping goals conceded lower than any manager has at Everton in the last two decades, and that does include David Moyes.

In the preseason we’ve seen him using both the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-4-2 depending on the personnel on the pitch and we can expect him to continue the same during the regular season. He will likely revert to the former when playing against tougher opposition with Richarlison in the wide left role, and when looking to unlock weaker teams will push the Brazilian upfront to play off Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Everton Pre-Season Training Camp Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Defensively, we could see the Blues fall into a 5-man backline when protecting leads away from home, with another centrehalf thrown on late much like Ancelotti and Silva did in the past. Andros Townsend’s crossing prowess and ability to cut in from the right will take some of the pressure off Lucas Digne as the sole provider of crosses into the box.

The return of Jean-Philippe Gbamin has certainly given Benitez the flexibility to move his midfielders around. Tom Davies did decently enough in spot duty last season, and we can expect the manager to use the pair in rotation to spell starters Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure.

Manager Profile

The 61-year-old manager has a resume just as colourful as the one of the man he replaced at Everton, albeit with not as much success. He started off in the Real Madrid system as coach of the Under-17 side, working his way up to the B Team before becoming Assistant Manager of the first team. What followed were stints at Real Valladolid, Osasuna, Extremadura, Tenerife and Valencia where he really made his name.

That springboarded him to Liverpool in 2004 where he spent six years, winning the FA Cup and the Champions League. He went on to manage Inter Milan, Chelsea, Napoli, Real Madrid again before his three years at Newcastle United.

Over his career he’s been more renowned as a Cup-winning manager than for winning leagues, lifting the Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Cup, FIFA World Club Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup, FA Community Shield, Coppa Italia, and the Supercoppa Italiana, and that’s fine for Everton’s aspirations because we are not going to be contending for the Premier League any time soon.

The expectations for Benitez for his first season seem pretty simple - a berth in Europe and two extended cup runs should do it. However, with the failure of the club to back him in the transfer market, he’s going to need every ounce of his man-management skills to get to those goals and still need a miracle or three thrown his way.

State of the Position

As the transfer window has gone on and Everton’s financial difficulties have come to the fore, it is quite clear that Benitez was brought in to steady the ship while the house is brought to order before a move to the new stadium at the Bramley Moore Docks. Much like what he had to do at Newcastle United where Mike Ashley gave him scant resources and the manager was expected to keep them afloat while giving the appearance of being competitive, it’s looking like he will have to do a similar job for the Toffees at least for this season while the Director of Football Marcel Brands continues to shed deadweight and huge wages from the books.

With the significant amount of opposition his appointment garnered from the fanbase, it does feel that if the club gets off to a slow start despite a relatively easier schedule for the next couple of months, the vitriol and negative atmosphere at Goodison will ramp up pretty quickly. Even some middling performances between now and December could still see his seat getting very warm very quickly, and backlash from the fans might force the Board’s hand just like it did towards the end of Roberto Martinez’s tenure.

It does look like we’re in for a spell in more turbulent waters before things may settle down into a relatively uneasy stability.

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