Rafael Benitez: Sacked manager did not realise magnitude of Everton task

Rafael Benitez says he did not realise the "magnitude of the task" at Everton following his sacking on Sunday after less than seven months in charge.

The Toffees appointed the former Liverpool manager, 61, as Carlo Ancelotti's successor in June.

Everton have won only one of their past 13 Premier League games and are 16th in the table, six points above the relegation places.

"We knew it wouldn't be easy," Benitez said following his departure.

"It was a big challenge, both emotionally and in terms of sport. 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.

"However, the financial situation and then the injuries that followed made things even harder."

Everton, who say an update on a permanent replacement will be made in due course, held an emergency board meeting on Saturday to discuss Benitez's future following Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Norwich, which was a ninth loss in the club's past 12 league games.

The Football News Show: Who next for Everton after Benitez's departure?

Everton's travelling contingent demanded Benitez "get out of our club", while a supporter invaded the pitch in an attempt to confront the Spaniard.

Benitez has been denied the services of several key players throughout the season, with key forwards Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and defender Yerry Mina having been out with injuries.

The Toffees have brought in three players this month - Vitalii Mykolenko from Dynamo Kyiv, Nathan Patterson from Rangers, and winger Anwar El-Ghazi on loan from Aston Villa, with Lucas Digne making a permanent move in the other direction.

"I am convinced that we would have been better once the injured players were back and with the arrival of the new signings," added Benitez.

"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."

Benitez, whose last job in the Premier League before Everton was at Newcastle United, leaves the Toffees with an overall win percentage of 31.8% - his lowest record in charge of an English club.

Everton have 19 points after 19 games and only twice previously have they had fewer points at this stage of a Premier League campaign (17 in 1997-98 and 2005-06).

Former Toffees striker Wayne Rooney, now manager at Derby County, has already been linked with the job.

Another potential candidate is Belgium coach Roberto Martinez. He was the first Everton manager sacked by owner Farhad Moshiri in 2016 but BBC Sport understands he still has admirers among the club's hierarchy.

Benitez's record in England
Club (years)Games managedGames wonWin %
Liverpool (2004-2010)35019756.3%
Chelsea (2012-2013)482858.3%
Newcastle (2016-2019)1466242.5%
Everton (2021-2022)22731.8%

'Rooney will get a mention'

Everton are now searching for their seventh permanent manager since the departure of David Moyes in 2013.

Former England captain Alan Shearer said on Match of the Day the night before Benitez was sacked: "He has been in the game long enough to know you have to get results, and if you don't you will probably lose your job.

"Yes the results have been dreadful but the problems lie deeper than the manager. If you look at the amount of managers they have been through and money that has been spent of players... absolute madness."

Former Premier League defender Stephen Warnock believes former Toffees striker Rooney could be considered - but Brighton's Graham Potter should be top of Everton's list.

"Wayne Rooney will get a mention and it is up to Wayne where he feels he is at if he was offered the job," Warnock told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It would be very difficult to turn down, from a club and fans point of view. Is he experienced enough? He would get the respect of the fans and the players.

"The choice I look at, and Brighton fans won't want me to say this, is Graham Potter. Everton fans want open and expansive football, and you would get that with him.

"This appointment has to be the right one. I don't think [assistant manager] Duncan Ferguson is the right choice - they need to look elsewhere."

Rafael Benitez's last interview as Everton boss

Everton won four of their first six league games under Benitez, taking 13 points from a possible 18, but their form has collapsed since October.

They finished 10th with 59 points last season with current Real Madrid boss Ancelotti as manager.

Director of football Marcel Brands departed in December as owner Farhad Moshiri attempted to tackle the crisis surrounding the club.

Former Premier League striker Clinton Morrison added: "There has not been a plan at Everton for years. They have not spent well and that is why the director of football had to go.

"I knew it would be a big struggle for Rafa going there. He started ever so well but once you have been a legend at Liverpool, it's always going to be difficult when you start losing games. It wasn't good enough against Norwich. Top six? No chance. They could be in a relegation battle."

Left-back Lucas Digne also left the club, for Aston Villa in a £25m deal earlier this week after falling out of favour and said he did not expect his time at Everton "to end this way".

"Benitez was always climbing a mountain," Danny Murphy told BBC Radio 5 Live. "It looked like they were backing him, they let him sell Lucas Digne and sign players so to disregard that, well, it is an absolute shambles and there is no real candidate for someone to come in and guarantee success.

"They are a massive club but with obvious massive problems."

Benitez's Premier League record
Club (years)Games managedGames wonWin %
Liverpool (2004-2010)22812655.3%
Chelsea (2012-2013)261557.7%
Newcastle (2016-2019)862731.4%
Everton (2021-2022)19526.3%
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