Rafa Benitez edging closer to becoming Everton manager 
Photo credit: (Getty images / Stu Forster)

It is believed Everton are close to announcing Rafa Benitez as the clubs new manager. 

It has now been four weeks since the sudden departure of Carlo Ancelotti who left the club to return to Real Madrid in a move that was 'right for him and his family.' 

Nuno Espirito Santo, Eddie Howe and Christophe Galtier are amongst the names of the considered candidates, however, the Spaniard holds pole position to gain the role.  

Some Evertonians have already showcased their disapproval on the potential appointment, with banners being unveiled outside Goodison Park last week, with one reading:

'Benitez not welcome.' 

Despite the backlash from supporters, Everton's board seem keen to appoint Benitez, 61, whose camp are confident a contract can be confirmed after multiple rounds of talks. 

  • Benitez's managerial success

As a manager, there is no doubt Benitez holds a winning pedigree. 

The Spaniard won the FA Cup and Champions League with Liverpool, with trophies at Valencia, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Napoli also to his name. 

Benitez's track record looks to have outweighed supporters backlash in the mind of owner, Farhad Moshiri who backs the ex-Liverpool boss.   

Despite his career success, Benitez's last managerial job didn't follow a similar script. 

Benitez struggled at Chinese Super League club, Dalian Professional FC, where he left with a 31% win rate. 

He left the club by mutual consent in January- after a year and a half in charge- over concerns of his family's health in the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • 'Small club' comments:

Beside from his obvious Liverpool connections, Evertonians' dislike to Benitez results from his comments made after a stalemate Merseyside Derby in 2007. 

He said: "When you play against smaller teams at Anfield you know the game will be narrow." 

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However, on an appearance on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football in 2019, the Spaniard apologised to his Everton fans for his 'mistake.' 

"I made a mistake when I said it's a small club," Benitez said. 

"What I wanted to say was it's a small team, because in the game they had once chance and they were very deep.

"Liverpool fans were happy, Evertonians were upset. I didn't want to say they was a small club, I wanted to say they were a small team."

It is clear Benitez will able to overcome is Liverpool ties and take over as Everton's new manager, although, it may not be the same for Evertonians who may take longer to forgive. 

  • Rodriguez Goodison Park exit

The sudden departure of Ancelotti has raised doubts over the future of numerous Everton players, most notably James Rodriguez

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The Colombian, who was signed by Ancelotti from Real Madrid last summer, registered six goals and nine assists in all competitions for the Blues.

However, an injury hit season saw Rodriguez feature once in Everton’s last six games as he struggled to overcome a calf problem which led to the playmaker being excluded from Colombia’s Copa America squad. 

The Italian manager has signed Rodriguez at three different clubs and according to reports, Rodriguez's agent, Jorge Mendes wants to move the star away from Goodison Park. 

The 29-year-old has supposedly been offered to Napoli, Atletico Madrid and AC Milan, although reports have suggested Ancelotti is interested in a Real reunion. 

  • Everton pre-season fixtures

If Benitez is appointed Everton manager, his first game would be against Colombian side, Millonarios in the semi-final of the Florida Cup in late July.

Depending on the outcome of the game, the Toffees will then play either Arsenal or Inter Milan in the final or a third place fixture. 

Everton's only other pre-season fixture is against Manchester United at Old Trafford, a week before the Premier League season starts. 

Although the fixtures are non-competitive, they would provide Benitez a crucial starting point in changing the minds of disapproving Evertonians.