Rafa Benítez not only achieved tremendous success as Liverpool manager, but he also seemed to fundamentally “get” both the club and the city in ways that elevate him in the pantheon of Liverpool managerial greats. Because of this connection, the building rumors suggesting he might take the Everton job have, well, caused a bit of discord — and not just for Evertonians.
I should start this off by stating that my relationship to Rafa Benítez is somewhat atypical. I don’t have the warmth of feeling for Rafa that I do for the likes of Kenny Dalglish — or our current manager, for that matter — even if I respect Rafa as a man and a manager immensely.
I don’t know exactly why, but I do know that I tend to gravitate towards the warmer, stereotypical “man-manager” style of managers, and while Rafa is demonstrably an incredibly talented manager (and I’m incredibly pleased we had him instead of the likes of José Mourinho), a warm and fuzzy fella he is not.
But even if I don’t necessarily adore Rafa as I do other managers, I whole-heartedly agree with The Anfield Wrap’s Neil Atkinson’s assessment of the manager from 2018:
“Liverpool fans do have an emotional reaction to Rafa Benítez — and that’s because he’s a very good man, not just a very good football manager.”
While Rafa is perhaps not the warmest character, he is most certainly a good man — a fact perhaps best exemplified by his donation of £96,000 to the Hillsborough Family Support Group, an action he made as Inter manager, not as the boss of Liverpool. He made this donation in person, handing Margaret Aspinall the check while giving her his well wishes for the group’s push for justice.
Because of Rafa’s deep understanding and connection to the Red side of Liverpool, the reactions to his potential appointment at Everton has been...mixed.
Many believe that his record at Liverpool combined with the aforementioned donation, among other actions, mean his legacy at Liverpool will remain intact regardless of what happens.
Some see the practical side of Rafa at work in this rumored move: it would allow him to be near his family, certainly, and the job itself might appeal to him (and not just because he doesn’t half seem to thrive on chaos).
I would also rather he didn't take the job. But it's Rafa -- he's utterly pragmatic, and will see this as, simply, the best job available for him at the moment. He won't have an emotional attachment to the work, or to the club, and certainly not to the fanbase.— Chris Hewitt (@ChrisHewittLFC) June 17, 2021
The familial location has featured in a number of takes on Twitter, to be sure:
Rafa is set to become the new manager of the Ev— Jay Pearson (@JimmyCully) June 16, 2021
His home has been on the Wirral since he arrived at Liverpool and his family have never moved
At his age, I don’t blame him wanting to stay at home.
In all seriousness, good luck to him at Everton. I think he will do well. pic.twitter.com/mc5ht7e81P
Still others believe a move to Everton would be too much, even for a manager with a Liverpool CV like Rafa’s.
You can't be a Liverpool legend - as a manager - and then go on to manage them. Just doesn't happen. If you do, fair play, but you get erased. Simple as.— Robert G (@RobGutmann) June 16, 2021
Given that Evertonians are by no means in one mind about the appointment (there are images of bedsheets around Goodison, though I haven’t walked over to check the veracity of the images myself), the rumored move is uncertain.
How do you feel about the idea of the Liverpool great becoming the first man to manage both Liverpool and Everton? Have your say in the poll below and in the comments.
Rafa managing Everton would
This poll is closed
Damage, but not erase his legacy at Liverpool
Make no difference, his record and activism in the city cement him as a legend no matter what
Make no difference, just seems pragmatic and I don’t care much
Severely diminish his legacy at Liverpool
I will no longer consider him to be a legendary Liverpool manager
My opinion will depend on what he accomplishes at Everton