Premier League • England

Rafael Benitez breaks silence on Everton exit by blaming two costly factors

Samuel Bannister
Rafa Benitez Everton

Rafael Benitez has blamed injuries and the financial situation at Everton for his departure, complaining of a lack of patience but thanking the club for their time together.

Benitez’s controversial reign as Everton manager has ended after less than seven months. His appointment in the summer prompted criticism due to his past association with rivals Liverpool. He ultimately never won over his doubters.

Since the start of October, Everton have only won one match in the Premier League. The final straw came for Benitez with a 2-1 defeat to Norwich City on Saturday.

Everton announced their decision to dismiss Benitez with a short, three-sentence statement on their website.

But reflecting on his 22-match tenure, Benitez gave more detail about the real reasons why it didn’t work out.

“We knew it wouldn’t be easy, and that it was a big challenge, both emotionally and in terms of sport,” he wrote on his official website.

“My love for this city, for Merseyside and its people, made me accept this challenge. But it is only when you are inside that you realise the magnitude of the task.

“From the very first day, my staff and myself worked as we always do, with commitment and full dedication. We didn’t only have to get results, but we also had to win over people’s hearts.

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“However, the financial situation and then the injuries that followed made things even harder. I am convinced that we would have been better once the injured players were back and with the arrival of the new signings.

“The road to success isn’t easy and sadly, nowadays in football there is a search for immediate results and there is always less and less patience; unfortunately circumstances have determined the results and it won’t be possible to continue this project.

“In any case, thank you to the board, to the staff, to the players, and to those fans who have supported us during this time.”

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Everton’s decision to hire a former rival raised eyebrows from the beginning. Now their time together is over, many pundits have been bringing back those initial concerns.

“Benitez, I was mystified when he took that job because he’s worked in Liverpool, I think he still lives in Merseyside, he knows the strength and feeling between the two clubs,” Graeme Souness told Sky Sports.

“It would be nigh on impossible. There’s very few players have made that cross to go to the other club. For a manager to do that? Nah.

“Especially his brand of football would not be something the Evertonians would have been looking forward to and indeed in these 200 days they have enjoyed.”

On the same channel, Robbie Keane added: “I think Rafa’s a top manager, but to go from Liverpool to Everton which is a few miles away, and what he did at Liverpool in terms of the trophies that he won, it was always going to be difficult.

“When you go to a club you have to start off quickly and get results behind you to get the trust of the fans. He didn’t do that.

“Losing nine games in 12, the writing’s always going to be on the wall.”

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