Everton are in chaos once more in the Premier League, meandering down another road to nowhere after yet another manager departed Goodison Park. Rafael Benitez faced a gargantuan challenge when he was announced as the successor to Carlo Ancelotti following the Italian’s exit to join Real Madrid. As a former Liverpool manager, Benitez always had to contend with his ties to the red half of Merseyside, although positive results would have mitigated his past.
However, Everton struggled immensely under his tenure, producing uninspiring football on the pitch, a criticism that has been levied at the Spaniard in his past at Newcastle, Real Madrid and Chelsea. Benitez appeared to win the battle behind the scenes in late 2021 after the director of football, Marcel Brands, was fired by owner Farhad Moshiri. Benitez would last only another month in his role as a 2-1 defeat to Norwich City prompted his sacking, winning only five of his 19 matches in the Premier League.
After 20 matches, the Toffees are only four points clear of the relegation zone and are backed at odds of 22/5 when betting at Space Casino to be relegated from the top flight. Interim manager Duncan Ferguson has ample talent at his disposal and should be able to steer the club safely away from the bottom three, especially considering that the Toffees have games in hand over their rivals. The concerns regarding Everton lay in the long-term prospects of the club. Their new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock will be open for the start of the 2024/25 campaign and will provide the team and their fans with a state-of-the-art facility.
Moshiri and Everton’s supporters will want to enter a new era for the club with momentum rather than the meandering tour of mediocrity that has engulfed the Toffees. Only Chelsea and Manchester City have spent more in the transfer market than Everton since the arrival of Moshiri to the boardroom. They have cycled through managers as Ronald Koeman, Marco Silva and Benitez have all been sacked. Even Ancelotti’s tenure was underwhelming, mustering a tenth-place finish in his only full season at Goodison Park.
Despite vast expenditure reaching £550 million and high-profile figures on the sideline, Everton have not managed to find a semblance of success, prompting reports that Moshiri was looking to sell his stake in the club that he then had to quash. There appears to be no cohesive plan on or off the field, highlighted by the fact that Brands, who was supposed to be the architect behind Everton’s future, was sacked to accommodate Benitez, who in turn was shown the door just weeks later.
The quality of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison in the final third will prevent Everton from suffering an unthinkable relegation. However, there is interest in the two players from other clubs in the Premier League and La Liga, with Calvert-Lewin linked with Manchester United and Barcelona eyeing Richarlison. If the duo were to leave in the summer, the Toffees would be in significant danger unless they were able to adequately replace their key men.
Given the evidence of their transfers of late, the odds are not in their favour. Moshiri and Financial Fair Play regulations could also limit what they are able to spend in the transfer market, which hardly makes the club an appealing proposition for a new manager. The Toffees are in danger of entering a new era on a low ebb rather than the platform of Champions League contenders that Moshiri would have anticipated after agreeing to a move to Bramley-Moore Dock.