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Benitez & Moshiri: Right manager; right chairman - but Everton the wrong club

COMMENT: Rafa Benitez and Everton. The right manager for the right chairman... but with the wrong club.

Without those Liverpool links this would be a great appointment. One to satisfy an owner desperate to get his investment moving. To push it forward. But because of those Liverpool links, Benitez to Everton must be a non-starter.

First the reasoning. Why would Farhad Moshiri invite such a backlash? Rafa Benitez? Of all people? "Tiny club" n' all that. Why would the Spaniard even enter the reckoning for the manager's job at Goodison Park?

Well, Moshiri's frustrated. Fed-up. He's done his part - and then some. The money he's invested in this Everton squad deserves better - much, much better - than the mid-table finishes he's had to grudgingly accept over these past five years.

After approving the dismissal of Roberto Martinez, Moshiri had gone through Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva, until he thought he'd cracked it with Carlo Ancelotti. But again, a season that promised so much ended in mediocrity. A tenth place finish under the Italian following the previous season's position of 12th. All 'achieved' with an England striker in Dominic Calvert-Lewin, a Brazil striker in Richarlison, Colombia's captain in James Rodriguez and England's first-choice goalkeeper in Jordan Pickford. That isn't the talent of a mid-table team. Indeed, even Ancelotti acknowledged as much. Before his back-and-forth with Jose Angel Sanchez, Real Madrid's vice-president, Ancelotti had actually sought assurances about next season. The Italian concerned he may be dismissal No5 of the Moshiri era.

Those assurances were relayed from upstairs. But Ancelotti still jumped. The call from Sanchez setting up a sudden, surprise return to Real Madrid for the three times Champions League winner.

It was that coaching success which convinced Moshiri to shell out for Ancelotti two years ago. The Italian returning to Real Madrid on wages 40 per cent less than what Moshiri had agreed to pay him.


Everton's 1984/85 title winners (L-R): Paul Bracewell, Ian Atkins, Pat Van den Hauwe, Andy Gray, Gary Stevens, Neville Southall, Derek Mountfield.

Front: Peter Reid, Kevin Richardson, Kevin Sheedy, Graeme Sharp, Kevin Ratcliffe, Trevor Steven

And this gets to the heart of it. It's why Moshiri is (or was?) willing to take the wrath of Everton's support by going well, well, down the road with Benitez. The majority shareholder has the money. He has the ambition. He has a football director, Marcel Brands, prepared to acquiesce to a manager's demands where reasonable. All he needs is the right bloody manager.

Andy Gray and Neville Southall are right in their protests about Benitez. But they're wrong in their assessment of his ability.

Both men have the finger on the pulse of what Evertonians are feeling about this move. Gray says Moshiri will find "a huge amount - I would guess the majority - will not be happy" should the appointment go through. Southall was more succinct, "he's Liverpool, the fans won't have it".

Of course, both men - both Everton league title winners - are right. It'd be a mess. Just as with Chelsea, Benitez will never be accepted by the majority of the Everton support - no matter what success he brought to the club. He'd always be waging an uphill battle. And it'd be a battle which inevitably would create problems in the stands and also between the board and the support. For Blues fans, those Liverpool ties are rarely broken.

Just consider what one neutral said only this week. Former Premier League ref Mark Clattenburg, on Jamie Carragher's podcast, discussed his first derby experience at Goodison Park.

"I'd just done the Manchester derby and the London derby, so it was my third derby in three or four weeks," he recalled. "I had underestimated it - the working-class derby. The other two were different derbies, this one was brutal.

"Some derbies are different in certain stadiums. Sunderland-Newcastle is more intense at Sunderland and Everton-Liverpool is more intense at Goodison. There was always more intensity."

'More intense'. 'Brutal'. This stuff matters. The rivalry. The intensity of that rivalry. It shapes a club. It's culture. Moshiri will know that. He'll be right across it. That he is willing to invite a reaction is proof enough of how desperate he is to deliver for the Everton support.

Which is why he's flirted with this appointment. Beyond the Anfield ties, Gray insists Benitez shouldn't be considered as he hasn't achieved anything "for 10, 11 years". For his part, Southall believes Duncan Ferguson, not Benitez, should be given the job because "we're never going to get relegated".

But Moshiri is looking beyond that. He isn't Mike Ashley hoping to do just enough to stay up every season. And he's clearly turned to Benitez after doing his homework and seeing how successful he's been with a board that backs him.

At Chelsea, for all the spite from the stands, he won the Europa League and guided the team into the Champions League places. With Napoli, working alongside movie mogul chairman Aurelio de Laurentiis, Benitez won the Coppa Italia, the Supercoppa Italiana and led them into the Champions League.

Benitez has shown - and Moshiri knows this - he can deliver if given the resources. And Everton, under Moshiri, do have those resources. But they can't be offered to Benitez. No matter how worthy he is of the job. No matter the potential for success Moshiri can see in bringing him in. There's some things in football which cannot be overcome.

For Rafa Benitez and Farhad Moshiri, they're the right manager and chairman combination. But Everton is the wrong club for this partnership.

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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