A Little Bit of History…
On Merseyside, Everton have always played second fiddle to the almighty Liverpool. They’ve never had the same domestic or European success. Apart from a few great seasons in the mid-1980’s, they’re never held in the same regard. Just like the blue side of Manchester, they were always chasing the coat tails of the red side. Then Manchester City got shiny new billionaire owners in 2008 and everything changed. Suddenly, the scales weren’t quite so tilted to one side.
In 2016, Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri bought Everton, and fans were hoping that a similar revolution would happen on Merseyside. Money can breed success, and perhaps they could finally chase down, and even overtake, their great red rivals.
The resignation of Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti on 1st June 2021 stunned not only Everton supporters, but football fans everywhere. His appointment just 19 months previously had been a major coup by the Liverpool club. They finally had the ‘Hollywood’ manager that the Moshiri wanted and had had every reason to be ecstatic. Ancelotti is a trophy-winning machine and the kind of A-list manager that attracts top players. Everything was in place for a serious push in the 2021/22 season. But an offer to return to Real Madrid was too tempting for Ancelotti, and the man who was going to lead Everton to the promised land had left them scratching their heads on the side of the road.
On the back of Ancelotti’s shock departure came the shock appointment of Rafael Benitez (below). The former Liverpool manager became just the second person in the 143-year history of Everton to cross from the red side of the city to the blue side. His arrival at Goodison Park on 30th June was met with substantial discontent from a large section of Blues fans, who have not forgotten Benitez calling Everton a “small club” in February 2007 when he was manager of rivals Liverpool. To say he’s got a considerable charm offensive ahead of him is an understatement.
The Season Ahead…
Everton is the 14th club Benitez has managed, and while his career has taken him through Spain, England, Italy and China, he has an impressive collection of trophies on his CV. If Everton fans can look past his association with Liverpool, and forgive his previous faux pas, he could be a great fit for the club.
There is an impressive squad at Everton – goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin are both England internationals. Richarlison and André Gomes (below) are both highly creative players, and there’s real squad depth with Michael Keane, Fabian Delph, Lucas Digne, Alex Iwobi, Séamus Coleman and Gylfi Sigurðsson, to name but a few.
Benitez has added a few names to this impressive squad already, signing the always underrated Andros Townsend from Crystal Palace, goalkeeper Asmir Begovic from AFC Bournemouth and former Leicester City winger Demarai Gray from Bayer Leverkusen.
A raft of players have left the club; Theo Walcott has joined Southampton permanently after a successful loan move, Joshua King has signed for Watford and Bernard has joined Sharjah. Yannick Bolasie and Muhamed Besic have both been released. Most Everton fans will be disappointed to learn that popular Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez, who made an immediate impact when he joined the club last season from Real Madrid, is not in Rafael Benitez’s plans and is free to leave if the club receives a suitable offer.
Location Liverpool, Merseyside
Stadium Goodison Park (39,414 capacity)
20/21 Final League Position 10th
Opening Game of 21/22 Season home to Southampton
21/22 Predicted Final League Position 11th
Benitez is a steady pair of hands, but you’ll be hard pressed to find an Everton fan who wouldn’t rather have Ancelotti in the managers seat this season. Despite the grumblings over the former Liverpool boss taking over, he should do a decent job, but it’s hard to see him radically altering Everton’s direction any time soon