EVERTON

Everton appoint Rafa Benitez on three-year deal

The Spanish manager is the first in history to manage Liverpool's two historic clubs. Goodison Park is his fourth Premier League adventure.

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Everton appoint Rafa Benitez on three-year deal
Ed Sykes REUTERS

Never in 129 years have Liverpool and Everton had the same manager. Rafa Benitez (Madrid, 1960) will be the first to do so. His signing for Everton (24 titles since 1878), who have not been in the Champions League since 2005 represents a personal challenge because of his past at Anfield, where he is respected and admired for the Champions League he won in Istanbul.

Mixed reaction from Everton fans

Benitez arrives at Goodison Park backed by club chairman Bill Kenwright and after winning the confidence of owner Farhad Moshiri, an Iranian businessman who after having a stake in Arsenal acquired 77 per cent of Everton's share capital in 2017. Benitez's arrival has not gone without criticism from a section of Everton fans, although the city has also seen, in recent days, banners welcoming the Madrid native, who will arrive with Paco de Miguel and Antonio Gomez as assistants.

Pancarta a favor de Benítez en una estatua dedicada al Everton.

Everton will be Rafa Benitez's fourth adventure in the Premier League, after being in charge of Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle. Benitez thus returns to England after his two-year stint at Dalian Yifang. Benitez agreed to terminate his contract at the end of last year with the Chinese club because of his ambition to take the reins of a project in Europe. If possible in England. If possible near to where he took up residence in 2005: in a mansion on the outskirts of Liverpool.

Benitez replaces Ancelotti

Benitez has won 13 titles in total in his career managing seven European clubs since 2002. Spells at Valencia, Liverpool, Inter, Napoli, Chelsea and Newcastle has seen him lift a Champions League, two Europa Leagues, a Club World Cup and two La Liga titles. He only drew a blank during his short-lived spell in charge of Real Madrid. Curiously, Benitez takes over from Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, the same transfer of power that took place in the summer of 2015 at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Reunited with James Rodríguez

At Goodison Park, he will be reunited with James Rodríguez, a player he previously managed at Real Madrid and whose future remains to be decided. Benitez accepts the Blue challenge with ambition and to prove that his time in China was not an early pre-retirement idea but an exotic break from a 26-year professional career in three of Europe's big five competitions: La Liga, Premier League and Serie A. At Everton, he will also return to the role of manager, a way of working that he defends to the hilt.