Rafael Benitez has emerged as the shock front runner for the Everton job, with the former Liverpool manager the leading candidate for the vacant role.
Benitez is the new favourite to take charge at Goodison Park following Carlo Ancelotti’s departure for Real Madrid, a controversial move given the Spaniard’s standing on the red half of Merseyside.
The 61-year-old spent six seasons at Anfield and is fondly remembered by the Liverpool support, having guided the Reds to Champions League and FA Cup success during his reign at the club.
Benitez left Liverpool in 2010 and has since had spells at Inter Milan, Chelsea, Napoli, Real Madrid and Newcastle in addition to a spell in China.
Sky Sports are reporting that he has emerged as the number one choice for the Everton hierarchy, following his exit from Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional earlier this year, with Benitez keen on a return to the Premier League.
It remains to be seen how the potential appointment of Benitez is greeted by the Everton fanbase, with the Spaniard having made a memorable ‘small club’ jibe in the direction of the Toffees following a goalless draw in 2007.
“I was really disappointed because one team wanted to win the game and one team didn’t want to lose it,” Benitez said at the time.
“Everton put eight or nine men behind the ball and defended deep but that’s what small clubs do.”
Benitez has since clarified those comments during an appearance on Sky’s Monday Night Football in December 2019 and admitted he made a ‘mistake’ in branding Everton a small club, before speaking on his ‘good connection’ with the city and not just the Liverpool fans.
“I made a mistake when I said it was a small club,” he said. “What I wanted to say was they are a small team because in this game I remember they had one chance.
“Liverpool fans they were happy and the Evertonians were upset. But I didn’t want to say they were a small club, I wanted to say they were a small team.
“Some Evertonians they come to me and say about what I did for the city, we have the charity, and all these things, so I have a very good connection with the city, not just the Liverpool fans.”
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