Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard among names on shortlist to replace Rafael Benitez; Rooney happy at Derby but would find Everton hard to turn down; Benitez: "I'm convinced that we would have been better once the injured players were back and with the arrival of the new signings"
Tuesday 18 January 2022 18:54, UK
Everton have sacked manager Rafael Benitez after just six-and-a-half months in charge following Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Norwich.
The Toffees have won just once in the Premier League since September and are 15th in the table, six points above the relegation zone.
Sky Sports News understands that Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard are two of the names under consideration to replace Benitez. Also on the list are former manager Roberto Martinez, Brighton boss Graham Potter, Rudi Garcia, and Duncan Ferguson until the end of the season.
Rooney is understood to be happy and focused at Derby County but would find it difficult to turn Everton down considering his history and association with the club.
Potter is understood to be very happy at Brighton and is not currently interested in talking to Everton.
Following his sacking, Benitez released a statement on Sunday night claiming things "would have been better" if players had not been injured and further new signings had been made.
He said on his personal website: "We knew it wouldn't be easy, and that 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. 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."
The former Liverpool manager was appointed Everton boss last summer but the Spaniard failed to win over the Goodison Park faithful.
Everton fans displayed a banner calling for his exit during their team's loss to Norwich at Carrow Road. The same banner was also unfurled at their 3-2 FA Cup third-round win at Hull.
Everton have lost nine of their past 13 league games, including a 4-1 home defeat by Merseyside rivals Liverpool and a 5-2 home defeat against relegation strugglers Watford.
"An update on a permanent replacement will be made in due course," Everton said.
Sky Sports' Roy Keane (speaking on Saturday):
"Every time I see Everton over the past few months and I must be right, it doesn't look like a good dressing room there. They've got some decent players who turn up every now and again, which is no good for a big club like Everton.
"Rafa Benitez will ultimately pay the price if they keep losing and he may go tonight, but I get the impression that something is missing in that dressing room whether that be the culture or the lack of characters and leaders at the club.
"I know Seamus Coleman and he's a really good guy, but I get the impression that's not a good dressing room. You can't lose that many games, the manager will pay the price."
Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp:
"To a certain extent, it's not all on Rafa what's gone on at Everton, but he has a habit of causing chaos at clubs. He's a politician and he's always blaming everyone else.
"He puts this person against that person and he creates an atmosphere of the crowd against the board everywhere he goes.
"I'm convinced he did it again there and I didn't see him lasting. Some people won't like that fact we've talked about a manager's position but his departure has felt inevitable.
"He was never the right fit. You can't keep losing matches. The fans didn't have him. Football fans don't mind who is in charge if they're winning, but he had to go.
"Duncan Ferguson is there, he did a good job as interim last time, and he could come in while they look for the next manager. Some people talk about Wayne Rooney, and the job he's doing at Derby is out of this world.
"This would be the greatest escape of all time. Whether he's the right fit? I don't know. But that's the sort of options they'll be looking at right now."
Former Everton defender Alan Stubbs:
"He's not for me. I've got to be honest. I think Roberto when he got the job, he was lucky that he inherited the defensive side of David Moyes that was still in the team.
"Over the years, it gradually got worse and worse and by the time he left, watching Everton was a real difficult watch - it was slow, it was boring at times, it was a lot of sideways, it was a tough watch.
"For me, it's not a candidate that I would certainly be looking for."
Sky Sports' Ben Grounds:
It is a question that remains hard to pinpoint, but for many of those who headed back to Merseyside from Norwich having made their longest away trip of the season, it was clear where the buck stops. Everton are in freefall and this unhappy marriage with under-fire former Liverpool manager Benitez reached its nadir at Carrow Road.
This was the club's first away defeat against a team starting the day bottom of the Premier League table since May 2004, having been unbeaten in 17 such occasions coming into the game. Benitez had run out of time and excuses. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was back in the side following his most recent relapse while Richarlison did have an impact off the bench, but the damage had already been done.
As has so often been the case during this miserable run of one win in 13 league games.
The 2-1 loss to Norwich continued an abysmal record for Everton of conceding the first goal in 16 of their 22 games in all competitions this season, including each of their last nine games.
Against the league's bottom side, who had conceded the first goal in 16 games themselves this term, Benitez watched his players ship twice before they staged any form of response. For Evertonians, and for Benitez, it felt like Groundhog Day.
He may now reflect on his six months in charge and never be quite as irate as the club's supporters at the current situation, but the players must also take accountability.
After all, both of Norwich's goals were of Everton's own making, with Michael Keane's own goal coming 92 seconds before Ben Godfrey's poor pass contributed to Adam Idah making it two.
Everton have won just 19 points from their 19 league games this season - only twice previously have they had fewer at this stage of a Premier League campaign. Senior members of the squad must come forward and lead by example, but calls for Benitez to be relieved of his duties became too hard to ignore.
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Everton have conceded the first goal in 16 of their 22 games in all competitions this season, including each of their last nine games.
Everton have won just 19 points from their 19 league games this season - only twice previously have they had fewer at this stage of a Premier League campaign (17 in 1997-98 and 2005-06).
January 22: Aston Villa (H) - Premier League
February 5: Brentford (H) - FA Cup
February 8: Newcastle (A) - Premier League
February 12: Leeds (H) - Premier League
February 19: Southampton (A) - Premier League
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