Everton finally pulled the plug on the Rafa Benitez era just 200 days into his tenure, with the loss at Premier League bottom club Norwich City the final straw for the Board. The majority of the fans had already had enough of the Spaniard’s archaic methods, with a ‘Benitez Out’ banner being displayed prominently for the last few games of the Toffees’ futile streak of one win in thirteen league games.
The club have not been hasty in trying to replace the manager though, with no official word yet whether an interim manager(s) will be appointed to get us through to the end of the season or until a permanent manager is appointed.
Per media rumours, Roberto Martinez was strongly pursued to return to the club but now it appears he will not be walking away from his Belgium national team job at least until the end of the 2022 World Cup this coming winter. Graham Potter has apparently indicated that he is not interested in leaving the cushy job he’s got at Brighton & Hove Albion while Wayne Rooney is also said to be a person of interest for the Board.
However, before we close the chapter on the ill-fated tenure of the former Liverpool and Newcastle manager, the writers at Royal Blue Mersey got together to say some final words on Benitez’s tenure with Everton.
Pete - I didn’t want him initially but I don’t have any resentment towards him now. Rafa wasn’t the issue, he’s just one in a long line of failed managers. Farhad Moshiri’s meddling and reactive decisions are what has caused this club to flounder year-after-year despite significant investment.
Tom - It was something that should never have happened. His Liverpool connections meant it was always going to turn ugly, it was just a matter of when. That it’s happened so quickly is a reflection of his outdated tactics and questionable team selections. There are deep-rooted issues at the football club not of Benitez’s making and he was also dealt a bad hand with injuries, but he still should have done far better with what he had at his disposal.
Geno - The Rafa era, I think, ended up turning out as everyone expected at the very least. It was fine giving him a try, even though it was probably never going to work out, but handing him the keys to the club about a month before you sack him ended up doing so much more harm than good. Unfortunately, if we can’t turn it around, that may not only be Rafa’s defining moment at the club, but also the Moshiri era’s.
Kevin - Another wasted opportunity. A flawed appointment, gambling on a veteran manager rediscovering his edge. Another change of direction abandoned partway through.
Geoff - Huge relief, I think he was stifling the life out of the squad and the club. While we all know the squad needs improving, his stale and negative formations, his refusal to accept personal blame and the aura that he cast are now thankfully consigned to history.
My biggest fears were realised, his final ridiculous decision to play Salomon Rondon in a front two with Dominic Calvert-Lewin exemplified his Jurassic Park-like tactics. Good riddance.
Matt - The Benitez era I personally feel was a huge waste of time and has put a massive road block in our development.
Pat - Abysmal. Had some slight hope early on, but all came crashing down pretty quick. His arrogance and close-mindedness was his downfall.
Trent - I personally gave Rafa the benefit of the doubt up until recently, when things really fell apart without any apparent changes considered by the now-former boss. It was good that he has been shipped out and that the team can recover and grow from the changes and position we find ourselves in today.
Calvin - I blame the Board for this one more than anything else. Allowing Benitez the authority they gave him that led him to pushing out Marcel Brands, Dan Donachie and Lucas Digne while it was very clear that his out-of-date tactics would not take the club forward was short-sighted, futile and will prove to be very expensive now.
With little spending room and now no Director of Football or long-term manager, the Board is getting exactly what they deserve for their reckless decision-making. However, it’s the fans who are suffering the most, living through this damned era of Everton Football Club.