Dubai: What have Everton, my beloved football club, done? In our 143-year history, there have been many contentious decisions by the Blues but I thought we would never be able to surpass former chairman Peter Johnson wanting to change the colour of season tickets to red - the colour of our city rivals. But that pales into insignificance with the latest move by the club’s hierarchy and I just can’t believe it.
Having lost manager Carlo Ancelotti to Real Madrid, the Toffees have replaced him with Rafa Benitez - one of the most successful and loved former managers of none other than Liverpool. I mean, it has to be the most ridiculous appointment in football.
The fans of both the red and blue half of Merseyside have been split with the news with some in favour and others vehemently against it. The 61-year-old Spaniard was the first option of owner Farhad Moshiri after several rounds of talks and was impressed by Rafa’s will to win. Although he has a very good record at most of the clubs he has managed, he is absolutely the wrong man for Everton whom he once branded a “small club” after a Merseyside derby draw. It is that condescending remark which still upsets us Evertonians, and so for the club to now employ him just feels like a kick in the teeth.
He received personal abuse and threats before signing the contract, and Merseyside police are investigating a banner that warned “We know where you live” but was left outside the wrong house near the Spaniard’s family home in Wirral.
We all know players and managers come and go and it is the fans that pick up the pieces, and we will always support the club through thick and thin, but this appointment will not end well for anyone. Rafa is risking ruining the relationship he has with Liverpool FC and he knows deep down that he will never be accepted by most of the Evertonians. He has put himself in a no-win situation and suffice it to say he will have to hit the ground running if he is to get the fans on his side. Nothing but 10 successive wins when the new season begins will do - he may even need to get an Everton tattoo on his forehead for the fans to even begin to warm to him.
I genuinely feel my club will be on the lookout for another boss by October – Rafa will be the first managerial casualty of the new 2021/22 season. But even if he were to do well and get us into the top five and pick up some silverware, it will be a period that most fans will want to forget.
With the sheer number of high-calibre managers currently available and actively looking for a new club, it is baffling that Moshiri – who to his credit has splashed in the region of 500 million pounds on new players and clearing debt since taking over the club – believes that Rafa is the right man for Everton. He is not.
Following his appointment yesterday, he described Everton as a great and historic club. That’s not enough, Rafa. Not by a long way. His PR team had better get into action ASAP because he is going to need all the help he can get.