Rafa Benitez was fired by Everton after 200 days in charge on Sunday with a brutal 40-word statement that offered no thanks to the manager whose appointment was always contentious with fans.
The Spaniard never overcame his successful association with Liverpool, whose stadium is only a mile from Goodison Park across Stanley Park, and his position became increasingly untenable as Everton sunk closer to the relegation zone.
Benitez’s name was chanted at Anfield within minutes after the announcement by Liverpool fans during their match against Brentford.
They not only fondly remember his 2004–10 reign, which included leading Liverpool to the Champions League title in ’05, but also his part in the decline of such a fierce, local rival.
A 2–1 loss to Norwich on Saturday left Everton six points above the relegation zone with only one win in the league since September.
“Everton Football Club can confirm the departure of Rafael Benitez as first team manager,” the club said in a statement. “Benitez, who joined Everton in June 2021, has left the club with immediate effect. An update on a permanent replacement will be made in due course.”
However delighted Everton supporters are to see Benitez’s departure, the ownership will also remain in their sights.
After a lavish and somewhat haphazard outlay of about $750 million on players since Farhad Moshiri became the club’s majority shareholder in 2016, Everton reined in its spending in the summer transfer window following the appointment of Benitez. Four players came in at a total cost of barely $2 million.
The fear has become about the danger of relegation rather than trying to qualify for Europe for the first time since 2017 in the Europa League. While Liverpool has won the Champions League (’19) and Premier League (’20) since then, Everton is without a trophy since the ’95 FA Cup and hasn’t won the English championship since ’87.
But the club is ambitious for the future with plans to move into a new stadium by Liverpool’s waterfront—costing around $700 million—for the start of the 2024–25 season. Benitez won’t be the manager leading the team in it.
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