Rafa Benitez is the new manager of Everton after agreeing a three-year deal to reshape the club’s fortunes.
It is a historic appointment by Farhad Moshiri, Everton’s major shareholder, as Benitez becomes the first man to have managed both Liverpool and Everton since William Edward Barclay in the 1890s.
The Spaniard has had numerous meetings with Moshiri, including one in Italy last week, and has now finalised a deal to become Carlo Ancelotti’s successor.
Everton have officially confirmed the appointment of Rafa Benitez as their new manager
Benitez managed Liverpool between 2004 and 2010 and won the Champions League in 2005
Frustrated Everton fans hung anti-Benitez banners outside Goodison Park earlier this month
There has been no official announcement by the club but that will happen on Wednesday.
Benitez, a manager who has both the Champions League and Europa League on his CV, has been working in the background since he first spoke to the Iranian billionaire three weeks ago.
He will be joined by his long-time ally, Paco De Miguel who will become Everton’s fitness coach.
The appointment is a controversial move from Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri
Benitez won the Champions League, FA Cup and UEFA Super Cup during his time at Liverpool
RAFA BENITEZ CV
LaLiga: 2002, 2004
UEFA Cup: 2003
Champions League: 2005
Super Cup: 2005
FA Cup: 2006
Community Shield: 2006
Italian Super Cup: 2010
Club World Cup: 2010
Europa League: 2013
Coppa Italia: 2014
Italian Super Cup: 2014
Benitez has always tended to appoint assistant managers who had connections with a club – Sammy Lee worked with him at Liverpool, Bolo Zenden went in alongside him at Chelsea – and it is his intention to talk to Duncan Ferguson about staying on.
Ferguson worked alongside Carlo Ancelotti and was keen to be considered for the role of permanent manager after the Italian left last month.
But, after much deliberation, the process is now almost at a conclusion and Benitez will become Moshiri’s fifth appointment in five years.
It is an appointment that will divide Everton’s supporters and there have already been banners, daubed with graffiti, hung up outside Goodison Park, about the prospect of recruiting Benitez.
This would not be a decision that has unanimous backing within the club. Moshiri has taken charge of the recruitment process, ahead of Marcel Brands, Everton’s Sporting Director.
Benitez, though, is eager to get down to work – Everton’s players are due to reconvene in 10 days at Finch Farm and will go to the United States for a pre-season tour in July.
Benitez might have a lifelong bond with Liverpool fans after winning the Champions League and FA Cup during six years at Anfield but his professionalism is beyond question and the 61-year-old is excited about the potential at Goodison Park.
Moshiri’s business partner, Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbek-born Russian billionaire who sponsors Everton, is also supportive and the pair have received glowing testimonials on Benitez from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who rates Benitez among the best managers he has employed.
The Spaniard’s family have never left Merseyside and he was desperate for the opportunity to revive the club’s fortunes.
Moshiri has made it clear that winning trophies and ultimately Champions League qualification are the priorities.
Everton threatened to break into the European places in the 2020-2021 campaign but ended the season in 10th place, three points behind Tottenham and six behind West Ham.
Benitez famously won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, with the Reds beating AC Milan in a memorable final in Istanbul.
He also won an FA Cup, Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup with the Toffees’ bitter rivals.
Everton are hoping Benitez can make the club European contenders in the forthcoming season
Benitez described Everton as a ‘small club’ after a Merseyside derby in 2007, but attempted to clarify his comment when speaking to Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football last year.
He said: ‘I made a mistake when I said it was a small club. What I wanted to say was they are a small team because in the 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.’
Everton had held extensive talks with former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo before turning their attentions to Benitez.
Marcel Brands, Everton’s director of football, put together a list of candidates including Nuno, Roberto Martinez and Graham Potter, while the club also spoke to assistant manager Ferguson about taking over.
But Benitez, who has also won LaLiga and the Europa League twice during his career, won the support of Moshiri and will be in place to take charge of pre-season training at the start of July.
Everton’s non international players are due to report to Finch Farm on July 5, while those competing at Euro 2020 and in the Copa America will return at a later date.