The Everton managerial search took another twist on Wednesday night, when former Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez emerged as the front runner for the vacant position.
A number of names have been tipped to take over the role after Carlo Ancelotti walked out on the Toffees to join Real Madrid and ex-Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Nuno Espirito Santo seemed to be in line to take over after a flurry of reports over the weekend.
But now a number of those same voices are saying Benitez will likely be the man to take over at Goodison Park. Understandably, it’s a potential appointment that has already prompted a massive amount of discussion.
Not only did Benitez enjoy success with Liverpool, winning the Champions League and the FA Cup in his stint at Anfield, he infamously referred to Everton as a “small club.” While some Toffees have long forgotten that throwaway comment, for others it’s often referenced when he’s mentioned as a possible managerial option. It’s been mentioned again since those reports surfaced.
Additionally, there’s a feeling that Benitez is yesterday’s man. While he was once a great tactician and organiser, the game has moved on at a rapid pace; since leaving Liverpool, he’s struggled in the majority of his roles, with a stabilising job at Newcastle after relegation and promotion his most recent success story.
Either way, if Everton do go down this route, they can expect a backlash.
Some supporters will hope Benitez still has it in him to advance a team that has ambitions of pushing for European football. But some simply won’t have him because of his Liverpool connections and will likely be quick to jump on the manager as soon as there is a hint of things going wrong. The typical grace that will be afforded to a new coach will not exist.
Others will simply look at his record since leaving Liverpool and see little to get too excited about.
Either way, it’s a huge gamble for the Toffees and an appointment that’ll lead to division and friction. At a time when they need togetherness and calmness, that’s a big concern.