Jason Pettgrove takes a look at what is next for Everton Football Club after the Benitez fiasco and how they can move forward and challenge city rivals Liverpool.
The sacking of Rafael Benitez by Everton was always a foregone conclusion once results took a turn for the worst.
Forget his prior allegiance with Liverpool for a moment, and look at his tenure in the cold light of day.
He started off so well, his organisational skills to the fore, that the chatter centered around how the Toffees might actually have got the right man in charge for the first time in a long time.
Signings such as Andros Townsend and Demerai Gray had slotted in brilliantly, and Everton were playing some sparkling stuff.
However, the Spaniard’s biggest mistake was reverting to type.
Football has moved on since 2005 when Liverpool earned their epic Champions League victory in Istanbul.
Football management has moved on too. It’s why the likes of Sam Allardyce can’t get work unless clubs are absolutely desperate.
Benitez has always been known as a ‘cold’ character, who rarely gives praise and can be somewhat unapproachable.
Once he had Everton’s Head of Medical, Head of Sport Science, Nutritionists, backroom staff and others removed, not to mention the power play which saw sporting director, Marcel Brands, sent on his way, Benitez had to get things spot on. He couldn’t and didn’t.
So, where do the club go from here because, frankly, they’re in a complete mess? Devoid of confidence, the Goodison Park outfit are currently sat in 16th place and just six points off of the bottom three.
With less than two weeks to go until the end of the January transfer window, whomever comes in barely has any time to make their mark in terms of signing the players they want.
Moreover, they’ll be saddled with Benitez’s buys from earlier in the window, and the loss of their most creative player, Lucas Digne, who left the club days before the Spaniard was sacked because of a falling out. Now there’s foresight from the hierarchy!
Rafael Benitez stars in a tale of two clubs…
1 Champions League
1 Fa Cup
6 points off relegation
Agent Rafa, your work here is complete. pic.twitter.com/n49NQN6VN5
— BetVictor (@BetVictor) January 16, 2022
Former manager, Roberto Martinez, perhaps forming a dream team with Thierry Henry, is being touted as the early favourite – BetVictor currently has him at Evens – and discussions are believed to have already taken place with the club.
The Belgian FA, for whom he currently works, are in no mood to let him leave before the World Cup, so any move for him seems doomed to failure at this stage unless Martinez makes it clear that he’s ready to move back into club management.
That he’s even in the conversation proves Everton have learned nothing.
His methodology and way of understanding the game is an upgrade on Benitez yes, but it didn’t work the last time he managed at Goodison Park, and he won’t have the tools he needs to improve upon that this time around.
Belgium are a great team in spite of him and not because of him. The standard of players he is working with at international level far exceeds what he’ll have at his disposal at Everton. As for Henry as a standalone candidate, that’s a complete lost cause. A great player no doubt, but the Frenchman has much to prove as a manager and Everton aren’t in the position where they can afford to take chances.
Neither would necessarily be considered suitable were it not for their history at the club, though Rooney has at least shown some managerial nous during his time at Derby County. He remains an outsider at 6/4 with BetVictor at this stage.
Frank Lampard is still out of work, and whilst he could bring a fluid and attacking style to the side, he isn’t necessarily defensively minded and will want to spend significantly.
With stability needed more than anything at this point, Lampard is possibly the right man but at the wrong time.
Whoever comes in will know that this season is a write off already, and that the best the club can hope for is mid-table safety.
Farhad Moshiri has to be proactive in his search for a suitable candidate, not reactive, and certainly not looking backwards, but forwards.
Perhaps that’s beyond an owner whose heart is in the right place, but not his head.
Martinez is a nod to the past and has to be discounted immediately. If the club continues down that particular path, the mediocrity associated with Everton for the last few years will linger on.