Rafael Benítez has been appointed as Everton’s manager on a three-year contract with the owner, Farhad Moshiri, insisting his controversial choice is “the best man” to deliver success.
The 61-year-old former Liverpool manager faces a huge challenge to win over the Everton fanbase having described his new employers as “a small club” in 2007. But Everton, who claim to have conducted “a robust and wide-reaching recruitment process over the last three weeks which has included multiple interviews with several candidates”, maintain Benítez was the strongest candidate available.
Duncan Ferguson, among those considered to replace Carlo Ancelotti after the Italian’s surprise return to Real Madrid on June 1st, will remain as part of Benítez’s backroom team with goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly. Further appointments, including Benítez’s long-time fitness coach Paco de Miguel, are expected in the coming days. Everton’s first team squad are due to return to training on Monday.
Moshiri, the majority shareholder who led the search for a manager with backing from his business partner Alisher Usmanov, said: “Rafa impressed us greatly with his knowledge and experience but, above all, the passion and hunger he showed to join our club.
“We are appointing Rafa because we believe he will bring success to our club and to Evertonians. To put it simply: we need to be competing at the top end of the league and to be winning trophies. Rafa is a proven winner with huge experience in coaching internationally and we have secured the best man to achieve that for us.”
Benítez said: “I am delighted to be joining Everton. Throughout this process I have been greatly impressed by the ambition shown by the senior representatives at the club and their desire to bring success to this historic club. I believe this is a club that is going places. I’m determined to play a big part in helping this great club achieve its ambitions.”
Everton’s director of football, Marcel Brands, and chairman, Bill Kenwright, were believed to be against the highly contentious appointment, although the latter said in the club’s official statement: “Rafa Benítez is joining Everton football club at an exciting time. On behalf of the board of directors I wish him well in achieving success for our football club – success our supporters long for and deserve.”
Animosity towards Benítez has spilled over into personal abuse on banners left outside Goodison Park, and another placed near his family home in Wirral warned: “We know where you live”, although it was put outside the wrong house. – Guardian ■