Having only won one game since October, it’s safe to say that Everton’s season has been a complete disaster. Rafa Benítez’s return to the Premier League has been one of disappointment with him being unable to keep up with the changing nature of the Prem. So many things have gone wrong for Everton, leaving fans wondering how bleak the future can be.
Over the past decade, Everton have always been a competitive side that found a way to sometimes challenge for Europe. During that period, the club has made some ambitious transfers and appointed prestigious managers.
Everton’s previous willingness to compete led them to hire Carlo Ancelotti in the winter of 2019 to steer the club out of some trouble. Ancelotti, being one of the greatest managers of the past 20 years, was able to push the team further than many would have expected. Under Ancelotti’s management, the team reached the quarterfinals of the FA Cup and was able to develop players like Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.
This previous summer, Real Madrid came calling and Ancelotti left Everton to oversee Madrid’s rebuilding project. Everton were left without the manager who oversaw a transformation at the club and jumped at Rafa Benítez for their next manager. Benítez is another manager who has been amongst the best of the past 20 years with his time at rivals Liverpool yielding great success.
There are many reasons why Everton has failed thus far from disappointing player performances to tactical issues. As the season progresses, it’s becoming more clear that Ancelotti had done an incredible job at papering over deep cracks in the club.
Ancelotti was able to get quality performances across the pitch, with many players seeing their value raised during his tenure at the helm. Since his departure, Benítez has been unable to get those same performances from the team.
From the goalkeeper to the forwards, the team has struggled to find the spark that was there under Ancelotti. Jordan Pickford has been among the most disappointing players with his goals allowed per game skyrocketing since the past season, while some of the goals allowed can be put on the weak defense, Pickford has still been a disappointment. Richarlison is an immensely talented player, but has regressed over the past season with his expected goal and assist numbers down which has in turn hurt even more in Calvert-Lewin’s absence.
It would be wrong to discount the impact of injuries, as Calvert-Lewin has missed the majority of the season due to injury. For the past few seasons Calvert-Lewin has been the team’s target man, scoring double digits in each of the past two seasons. With him missing the majority of the season, the team has lacked a clinical finish, as no player this season has more than 5 goals and the team is below average in terms of goals scored.
Disappointing player performances and absences have contributed to Everton’s failures this season. Although some of these issues can’t be totally attributed to Benítez, but it does seem that there are deep issues that aren’t being papered over anymore.
At one point, Benítez was one of the best managers in the world with his Liverpool side winning the Champions League in 2005. While he never lived up to these heights ever again, he had still done a good job at other clubs, but it does seem like his time as a great manager has finally run out.
Benítez was only gone two years from the Prem before returning with Everton, as he had been the manager of Newcastle for over three seasons. During his time at Newcastle, he helped the club rebound in the Championship and find stability in the top flight. It was a surprise to see him leave the club despite the success that he had in turning the team around.
It wasn’t too much of a surprise, unless you’re a Liverpool fan, to see Everton select him as their manager after Ancelotti. However, Benítez has struggled to find a proper formation with a set tactical mindset, seemingly switching from more offensively minded to defensive. This has led to the team never truly having a set identity and it seems that Benítez is completely out of his element.
While Benítez is without a doubt one of the more memorable managers of the past two decades, it seems like his time as a truly first class manager is gone. At Newcastle, he seemed perfectly suited for the job but it seems like he is ill suited for the project needed at Everton.
Everton will likely be safe from relegation, but for a club that has been somewhat competitive, it’s a bit of a shock to see them performing like this. It seems that the club has no real vision or plan for the future since Ancelotti left. While it may seem early, it should be time for Everton to rebuild correctly and find a manager that can properly lead the team in this phase.
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