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Rafa Benitez issues apology to Everton fans following Goodison Park sacking

Rafa Benitez has blamed Everton’s slide towards the relegation zone on the club’s ‘financial situation’ and bad luck with injuries this season after being sacked on Sunday afternoon.

The former Liverpool boss was relieved of his duties in the wake of the Toffees’ embarrassing 2-1 away defeat to Norwich on Saturday, a result which left Benitez with just one win in 13 matches. 

But in a post on his website, Benitez took little blame himself, instead pointing the finger at a lack of summer transfer funds and fitness issues in his squad.

Rafa Benitez was sacked by Everton on Sunday after a 2-1 defeat by struggling Norwich

In his statement, Benitez said:  ‘We knew it wouldn’t be easy, and that it was a big challenge, both emotionally and in terms of sport. 

‘My love for this city, for Merseyside and its people, made me accept this challenge, but it is only when you are inside that you realise the magnitude of the task. 

‘From the very first day, my staff and myself worked as we always do, with commitment and full dedication, we didn’t only have to get results, but we also had to win over people’s hearts. However, the financial situation and then the injuries that followed made things even harder. 

‘I am convinced that we would have been better once the injured players were back and with the arrival of the new signings. 

The Toffees were consigned to their ninth defeat in 13 league games at Norwich on Saturday

The Toffees were consigned to their ninth defeat in 13 league games at Norwich on Saturday 

‘The road to success isn’t easy and sadly, nowadays in football there is a search for immediate results and there is always less and less patience; unfortunately circumstances have determined the results and it won’t be possible to continue this project.

‘In any case, thank you to the Board, to the staff, to the players, and to those fans who have supported us during this time. My best wishes for EFC. Rafa Benítez.’

Everton’s hierarchy held an emergency meeting following their dismal display at Carrow Road, and on Sunday afternoon, the Merseyside outfit confirmed that they had parted ways with the 61-year-old. 

The Spaniard’s appointment was divisive from the outset, given his history with arch-rivals Liverpool – where he won the Champions League in 2005. 

Roberto Martinez has emerged as a frontrunner to replace Rafa Benitez at Everton, six years after the Belgium manager was sacked at Goodison Park. 

Benitez claims that the 'financial situation' and 'injuries' made things difficult for the Toffees

Benitez claims that the ‘financial situation’ and ‘injuries’ made things difficult for the Toffees

Benitez, who met owner Farhad Moshiri at Everton’s Finch Farm training base last Thursday for what he called a ‘positive lunch’, saw his departure confirmed in a terse 40-word statement on Sunday.

Everton are now on the cusp of a relegation battle but they are pursuing the option of bringing back Martinez. The Belgium head coach has a £2million release clause in his contract, which expires at the end of this year after the World Cup.

It would be a dramatic move as Martinez was the first of five managers Moshiri sacked in May 2016 and news of the potential deal was greeted with anger by fans, who are seething about the situation the club is in.

It was initially proposed that Martinez took the job on an interim basis — Belgium only have one friendly against Slovenia in March — but he is eager for a permanent role. The Belgian FA, who are in talks with Everton, want to keep him.

Martinez, it is understood, will not resign without a deal being agreed with Belgium.

Belgium national coach Roberto Martinez is being lined up for a sensational return to Everton

Belgium national coach Roberto Martinez is being lined up for a sensational return to Everton

During his previous stint as Everton boss, he led the club to a record Premier League points total in 2014, as well as the semi-finals of the League Cup and FA Cup in 2016.

He was a candidate last summer but Moshiri, the club’s majority shareholder, chose Benitez and the Iranian’s capability for the unexpected means there are no guarantees that talks will lead to an appointment.

Club stalwart Duncan Ferguson is waiting in the wings and would love a crack at the job but if he does not get it now his time may never come.

Other names being discussed include Wayne Rooney, who has done outstanding work at Derby, and Niko Kovac, the former Bayern Munich head coach who is available after leaving Monaco. Moshiri has always liked Jose Mourinho, who is at Roma.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk