Rafa Benitez had no chance of keeping his job at Everton, admits a former player who has opened up on the aspects of his style that were unfavourable.
Benitez was dismissed as Everton manager on Sunday after a run of just one Premier League win since the start of October. Never a popular choice in the role, his reign lasted just 200 days.
Everton are back to square one as a result, and they will have to think about their next appointment more carefully than when they brought in Benitez.
Their summer decision was immediately met with backlash from some of their supporters. They were not willing to ignore his past across the Merseyside divide with rivals Liverpool.
Benitez has outlined how he and his staff tried to win his doubters over. However, their decline in form made that task impossible, contributing to a toxic environment at Goodison Park.
Despite Benitez’s reputation as a manager, it was something that many could have seen coming. Therefore, questions of why Everton appointed him in the first place have become more frequent again.
One man who cannot get his head around the association between Benitez and Everton is Stephen Warnock.
The former Liverpool defender played under Benitez 67 times – more than any other coach in his career. But he has since opened up on how there were aspects of Benitez’s approach that he was not keen on.
Therefore, he is not surprised to have seen Benitez dismissed by Everton.
Warnock told BBC Radio 5 Live: “There was no way Rafa Benitez was surviving this situation and everyone could see it.
“If I was Lucas Digne’s agent, I would have said, ‘hold fire, he’ll be gone in a couple of weeks’.
“I worked for him. Rafa was hard work. He is not a man-manager. He is cold – that does not excite me to go into a building.
“To come back from China and go to your former rivals… It just did not work for me.”
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As Warnock referred to, one man who may have been keeping a close eye on Benitez’s future is Lucas Digne.
The left-back left Everton for Aston Villa earlier this week, having not played under Benitez since the Merseyside derby on December 1st.
Digne reportedly clashed with Benitez in training and the manager put his foot down. He later claimed Digne had told him he did not want to play for the club again.
After the Frenchman completed his transfer to Villa, he issued a cryptic message that appeared to take aim at Benitez for his Everton exit. He wrote: “Sometimes it only takes one person from outside to destroy a beautiful love affair.”
Perhaps had he waited, Digne would still have been at Everton. But now he is not – and neither is Benitez.
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The rumour mill has gone into overdrive with potential replacements for the 61-year-old Spaniard. Derby County boss and former Everton striker Wayne Rooney has long been linked with the post.
Frank Lampard, Brighton’s Graham Potter and Nuno Espirito Santo have also been mentioned in connection with the job.
However, talkSPORT are adamant that Martinez and interim manager Duncan Ferguson are the frontrunners.
Martinez was in charge at Goodison Park between June 2013 and May 2016. He was sacked by the club before taking over as Belgium boss in August 2016.
He guided De Rode Duivels to third place in the 2018 World Cup. They crashed out to Italy in the quarter-finals of last summer’s delayed Euro 2020 tournament.
And there is a sense that a talented group of players have under-achieved with the Spaniard at the helm. He may now get a route back into the club game if the report proves to be correct.
Martinez knows Ferguson well as the Scot was among the first-team coaching staff during his time in charge. But now the pair may be up against each other for the position.
However, there are many other possible candidates, with Rudi Garcia also in the frame. Martinez is supposedly the favourite, however.
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