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The Other Merseyside!

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Carlo Ancelotti’s unexpected departure from Merseyside to take charge of Real Madrid has left Everton Football club on a hunt for a new face. With many names being suggested to take charge of the club, Rafa Benitez, the former Liverpool Manager’s name is the most alluring. If he does take charge of the club, he will become the first man to manage both Merseyside clubs.



The former Red’s boss is a club Legend and is one of the most renowned names in the history of the club. The potential signing may cause backlash from the fans and could result in heavy criticism from the Anfield end as well. Potential replacement David Moyes has signed a contract extension with West Ham. Leaving the club hierarchy enthused about Benitez and a deal might just be around the corner.



Rafael Benítez Maude began his managerial career early on after suffering from a knee injury in his early days as a player. He took up various coaching positions in the Real Madrid youth systems before making a name for himself on the bigger stages.



His big break came when he took charge of Valencia in 2000. He led the La Liga side to the league title in the 2001/02 season. Although his next season was lacklustre, Benitez made vital changes to improve his squad. In the 2003/04 campaign, Valencia once again lifted the title with three games to spare. However, disputes with the club management led to his resignation on June 1 2004.



Liverpool was quick to swoop up the Spaniard to replace Gérard Houllier. On his arrival, he stated: “It is like a dream to be here. I am very, very proud to be joining one of the most important clubs in the world in one of the best leagues in the world – and I want to win.”

Benitez was keen on retaining some of the key players. He also brought in some excellent signings like Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia. His transformation of the existing players was also noteworthy. Rafa was excused for not making the expected impact in the first season as many of the key men were injured.



Yet, despite many setbacks, the Champions League run was extraordinary. Benitez secured a trip to the finals defeating the likes of Bayer Leverkusen, Chelsea and Juventus. A final that went on to be remembered for aeons to come. Dubbed the “Miracle of Istanbul”, Liverpool came back from a 3-0 deficit at halftime to level the scoring in the second half. They eventually went on to win their fifth European title in the penalty shootout. It remains one of the best comebacks in the history of the sport.



“Once you reached that euphoria… that satisfaction and happiness, you enjoy the moment and see everything around you, all the red with so many people with so much passion. After so many years, that’s something wonderful that stays in your memory forever”. —Benítez speaking in 2020 on winning the 2005 Champions League Final.

Benitez became only the second manager to win the Champions League with Liverpool in his first season in charge. Yet, despite his best efforts, the Spanish manager was not able to win the Premier League. After rather topsy turvy years that followed, he finally left the club in 2010.



Benitez’s next destination was treble-winning side Inter Milan. But, after a poor campaign, he was dismissed halfway through the 2010/11 season. He then took on the role of interim manager at Chelsea following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo. The new manager was received with hostility by the Chelsea fans due to the comments he made about the club during his time at Liverpool. He did lead the club to a Europa League final amidst mixed performances. He also led them to a third-place finish and although some fans showed appreciation for his efforts, he did not remain with the club.


His next position was at Napoli but once again his spell was short-lived. Although he won the Coppa Italia with the club, he did not make any significant impact and resigned at the end of the 2014/15 season. He was soon appointed as the Real Madrid manager, but despite good initial performances, was sacked from the role. Claims of displeasure from the fans, players and a failure to win against top clubs were the alleged reason for the same.



In 2016, Benitez joined Newcastle United, tasked to steer the team out of the relegation zone. However, despite good results in the final parts of the campaign, The Magpies were relegated. Benitez remained at the club and won the Championship the following year to win promotion back to the Premier League. Once again, he stepped down from the role in June 2019 amidst disputes with the club hierarchy.  He then joined the Chinese club Dalian Professional. After one-and-half years returned to the Merseyside where his family is settled.



Rafa Benitez hopes to make a comeback to the Premier League with Everton. He had previously made comments about the club, citing them as a “small club”, in his time at Liverpool. These potential remarks are not going well with the fans and many oppose the signing.



Yet, despite the backlash, Rafa Benitez is confident he can convince the fans and gain their support according to reports. The 61-year-old no longer holds the prominence he once did. Yet, his trophy cabinet and past experiences do make a case. It might be a decent signing in terms of experience and ability. Will he be able to build on the foundation laid by Carlo Ancelotti or will he stumble once again? Let’s wait and find out! His public apology about the remarks he made at his time might well be the right way to start!

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