Rafael Benitez: Could Liverpool Legend Make Move to Everton from Chelsea?

Ian RodgersWorld Football Staff WriterMay 18, 2013

Could Rafael Benitez follow David Moyes as Everton manager?
Could Rafael Benitez follow David Moyes as Everton manager?Michael Regan/Getty Images

Here's a thought: You have achieved legendary status at one club after guiding them to an incredible Champions League success, but you have not worked in full-time management since December 2010.

You were gifted an opportunity to take over another leading English club in a temporary move and ended up taking them to another European trophy, reminding the football world of your abilities.

However, despite that success, you are a surplus to requirements, most notably with a number of the club's supporters, and are looking for a full-time role.

Only one exists, though, and it's with a team you once described as "a small club," incensing the fans there while you were managing their local rivals. Do you put yourself forward for that position?

Rafael Benitez for Everton? On the face of it, it sounds like a marriage made in the depths of Dante's worst nightmares.

However, there would be a logic behind the idea which should not go unnoticed by the Goodison Park hierarchy.

Benitez made his mark on Merseyside when he guided Liverpool to that remarkable comeback against AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005.

With the Anfield side facing humiliation in front of a global television audience at 3-0 down to the Italian team, Benitez provided a change of tactics and a half-time team talk which prompted a revival never to be forgotten by Liverpool supporters, as The Mirror reported.

That match alone would have been enough for Benitez to seal his place in Anfield folklore, but his feud with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, culminating in his "fact" press conference in 2009, as chronicled in The Guardian, assured him of even greater respect in the eyes of Reds fans.

The Spaniard's comment that Everton were "a small club," after a goalless Merseyside derby at Anfield in February 2007, drew the fury of Goodison Park officials, players and fans, according to BBC Sport.

Benitez left Liverpool in June 2010, as BBC Sport reported, and took up the reins at Inter Milan a week later, but was sacked six months later with the Serie A giants 13 points behind league leaders and rivals, AC Milan.

The final straw for Inter president Massimo Moratti and the board came when Benitez asked for money for squad strengthening immediately after the FIFA Club World Cup win over TP Mazembe in December 2010.

Benitez would be in the managerial wilderness for two years before Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich brought him to Stamford Bridge as the interim replacement for Roberto Di Matteo, who was sacked in November.

As outlined in the Daily Mail, the former Valencia coach's arrival was greeted with jeers and catcalls from a sizeable number of Chelsea supporters, who had been angered by comments he made while in charge of Liverpool.

However, Benitez will finish the season for Chelsea on Sunday with a Champions League place assured and the Europa League trophy in the Stamford Bridge cabinet.

Benitez has also introduced a squad rotation system to Chelsea which has not disrupted senior professionals at the club. He has also balanced the phasing out of club legends, such as John Terry, without lighting fires, as outlined by ESPN.

The West London club will finish their campaign with the visit of Everton, with whom David Moyes will be making his final appearance in the dugout before succeeding Ferguson at Old Trafford.

It should be a ready-made vacancy for Benitez. He is a trophy winner, has a home on the Wirral and hasn't ruled himself out for the job, although he concedes it may be "difficult" for either party to accept the job, according to the Liverpool Echo. And, importantly for Everton, no compensation payment will be required.

Perhaps the most intriguing comments on the possibility come from Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, an Everton fan as a boy but now an Anfield legend, in a Talksport interview.

Everton are looking for a manager and he’s looking for a job. He wants to stay in the Premier League and he’s stated that a few times, that is his priority.

It might ruffle a few feathers with the Liverpool and Everton side of it. I don’t know how difficult that sort of thing is. I know it happened between Tottenham and Arsenal with George Graham and I think eventually it was a problem for him.

Everton would love to get someone with his CV, but with the Liverpool  situation it makes it difficult. If all parties come together and they are willing to give it a go then I’m sure he would do a good job.

For a Merseysider like Carragher, who has had a foot in both camps as a fan and player, to suggest it is a workable appointment must mean there is some merit to the idea.

Everton would love to have someone with Benitez's CV as their manager to replace Moyes. Under any other circumstances, it would be a tremendous coup for the club.

But the name Rafael Benitez carries some venom for Everton supporters, and chairman Bill Kenwright's vow to seek guidance from the supporters, according to the Liverpool Daily Post, may see the former Liverpool boss out of the frame.

However, Everton fans pride themselves on being distinct from others, and Benitez's treatment by Chelsea supporters could act as a catalyst for the Spaniard being afforded more respect than he may previously have expected.

Benitez's appointment as Everton manager is a situation which will probably never arise, but it would be remiss of Kenwright not to speak with the man in the home dugout at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.


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