Everton have sacked Rafa Benitez after the Toffees’ embarrassing 2-1 defeat at Norwich City proved the final nail in the coffin for the Liverpool legend.
In an ice-cold 40-word statement, Everton confirmed the news on Sunday afternoon.
‘Everton Football Club can confirm the departure of Rafael Benitez as First Team manager,’ a statement read.
‘Benitez, who joined Everton in June 2021, has left the Club with immediate effect. ‘An update on a permanent replacement will be made in due course.’
Norwich – who had previously failed to score in six league matches – consigned Benitez’s side to a ninth defeat in 13 matches on Saturday, leading to a furious reaction from the travelling masses.
One fan invaded the pitch in a failed attempt to get to the Spaniard, while two banners were unfurled in the away end. One read: ‘Get out of our club’, while the other said: ‘Sack the board’.
Everton’s hierarchy held an emergency meeting following their dismal display at Carrow Road, and on Sunday morning, the Merseyside outfit confirmed that they have parted ways with the 61-year-old.
Benitez was appointed last summer as the club’s replacement for Carlo Ancelotti, who left the Toffees for a return to Real Madrid.
The Spaniard’s appointment was divisive from the outset, given his history with arch-rivals Liverpool – where he won the Champions League in 2005.
In 2007, Benitez labelled Everton a ‘small club’ following a Merseyside Derby and local police investigated a threatening banner which read: ‘We know where you live, don’t sign’ before his appointment.
Last month, Benitez insisted that he needed more time to turn the tide at Goodison Park, and pointed to ‘years of frustration; before his arrival in a bid to get supporters on side.
After yesterday’s defeat, Benitez said: ‘I am a professional and I have enough experience.’
‘I came here to fix issues that were coming from the last five years. What I have to do now is analyse the mistakes we are making and make sure we avoid that for the future. The rest is not in my hands. I just try to do my job.’
On the supporter who charged towards him, Benitez said: ‘I didn’t see the fan. I was concentrating on the game. After I saw someone was in the middle of the pitch but that’s it.
‘We are really disappointed because we lost. We are disappointed because the fans have been travelling to support the team and it’s not the ideal situation.
‘But we cannot change this situation now. We have to learn because we cannot make these mistakes in the future.’
Having tried, and failed, with big-name managers such as Benitez, Ancelotti and Ronald Koeman, it remains to be seen which direction the Everton hierarchy go next.
Former England captain Wayne Rooney is currently the bookmakers’ favourite to takeover, having worked wonders at Derby County, while Benitez’s assistant Duncan Ferguson is also among the leading contenders.