Everton have appointed Rafael Benitez as their new manager, with the former Liverpool boss replacing Carlo Ancelotti.
The Toffees have been searching for a new manager since Ancelotti’s surprise return to Real Madrid at the start of June.
Nuno Espirito Santo was reportedly close to being appointed earlier in the month, with West Ham’s David Moyes having also been a mooted option, yet it is one of their main rivals’ most successful managers of recent times who has been handed the reins instead.
Benitez has signed a three-year contract with Everton, who finished 12th and 10th in their two seasons under Ancelotti – whom the Spaniard also succeeded at Madrid in 2015.
The appointment has not come without controversy, with sections of Everton’s support having shown their displeasure by leaving messages of protest at Goodison Park, while Merseyside police are investigating a ‘threatening banner’ left close to Benitez’s family home.
Benitez led Liverpool to a famous Champions League triumph in 2005, with the Reds coming from 3-0 down to beat Ancelotti’s Milan on penalties in Istanbul.
He followed that up with an FA Cup success in 2006 and a run to the 2007 Champions League final, though Milan prevailed on that occasion. From 228 Premier League games in charge of Liverpool, he managed 126 victories – a record surpassed only by Jurgen Klopp in December 2020.
His six-year stint at Anfield came to an end in 2010, and though he went on to manage Inter, Madrid, Chelsea, Napoli and Newcastle United, he remained a Liverpool fan favourite.
Benitez has most recently coached in the Chinese Super League, having taken the helm at Dalian Professional from July 2019 to January of this year.
His efforts at Newcastle are perhaps what drew Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri to Benitez, who failed to save the Magpies from relegation in 2015-16 but secured an instant return to the Premier League before finishing 10th and 13th in the next two campaigns.
Of his 86 top-flight games in charge of Newcastle, Benitez won 27, with his team scoring 97 goals, bettering their expected goals (xG) total of 90.35. He left in 2019 after failing to agree a new contract, later citing a lack of backing from the club’s owner Mike Ashley.
Benitez also counts two LaLiga titles, one Suppercoppa Italia, the 2006 Community Shield, a Coppa Italia and a Europa League triumph among his honours.
He becomes Everton’s fifth permanent boss in the space of five years, with Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce, Marco Silva and Ancelotti having all held the role since Roberto Martinez – the Belgium boss who was also a reported target this time around – was relieved of his duties in 2016.
Everton start their 2021-22 Premier League campaign at home to Southampton, with Benitez’s first reunion with Liverpool coming at Goodison Park in November.