After weeks of speculation, it appears probable that former Liverpool manager Rafa Benítez will be announced as Everton’s new manager tomorrow, following Carlo Ancelotti’s departure to Real Madrid earlier in the month.
It is the sort of news that has largely been met with ambivalence in both parts of the city, with Liverpool fans largely appreciative of the Spaniard’s desire to live in the city he loves, despite the disagreeable notion of having to face him in the Merseyside derby, while Blues fans struggle to reconcile the 61-year old’s undeniable pedigree with his past in Red.
Some fans have predictably taken it too far, posting threatening messages on a banner near his home in a shameful display of idiocy that should be, and largely has been, unilaterally renounced, but Benítez is reportedly unperturbed.
Presuming the deal goes through as predicted, next season’s Merseyside derby will undoubtedly be one of mixed emotions, but assuming he is given time at the club, and can get the sort of buy-in from the players his brand of football and pragmatic man management requires, there is little doubt that this is a signing that is likely to improve Everton’s performances on the pitch.
As long as their success does not exceed that of the Reds — fat chance — this could be a beneficial situation for all parties, and considering how much he has done for the city, and the kinship he feels with its people, it is difficult to begrudge Benítez a chance to return to Liverpool for what looks like to be the twilight of his managerial career.