It took Rafa Benitez to become Everton manager to bring me out of semi-retirement. It also took Rafa Benitez to break one of my unwritten rules of writing.
I can’t stand open letters. Besides ‘The Curious Case of… ‘ articles, there is no other type of article that does my head in more.
But the Rafatollah is a special case.
It’s not worth going into the ins and outs of his appointment. It’s done now. We either win with him or he becomes another on the Newcastlesque carousel of managers that we have had in the last decade. I would rather Everton won than he lost. But after his previous with us, he needs to do more than just win to get us onside. So I have written a letter to give him a few clues.
You have been the manager of Everton for 6 weeks now and are about to take charge of your opening game with the club. Whatever happens today, there will be a divided fanbase to unite. As you have stated, you know the people of this city. I am sure then that you understand that it will take more than a win against Southampton to do that.
In recent years, we have flitted from the charmers, Martinez and Ancelotti, via the seemingly apathetic Ronald Koeman and the broody Marco Silva. All of them failed and left the club in a worse position than when they found them. Some blues would rather we had Allardyce back now than yourself. That is the size of the task ahead of you.
A Message to You Rafa
So you need a hand Mr Benitez and who better to give it to you then the supporters of the blues themselves? After all, you said in your pre match press conference that Everton need all of the supporters to get behind the team. So inspire them. It will take more than making the team work hard to get Evertonians onside.
You see, whilst you were manager across the park, you saw a hard working side that played great football in patches. You saw grit and determination and thought that was what Evertonians wanted above all else. You saw a small club of grafters try to get results against your 2nd placed side. You saw that Everton twelve years ago and have applied that to now. But Evertonians expectations are bigger than you think.
Bigger Than Benitez
This club, as you have referred to us in press conferences, is bigger than you think Mr Benitez. You will find out when you are on the touchline at Goodison Park today. This crowd expects and have seen it all. This club has won titles, escaped from relegation, played on the carpet, in the air and is renowned for it’s community work. As a man who does much for the community in Liverpool, you must appreciate this.
This crowd is demanding though. Even some of its greatest players have been on the end of the sharp tongue of the supporters. The club’s greatest manager had his garage doors graffitied. So you have a lot of work to bring them round. You may think that you can do this job without them but you would be wrong. It’s a fact. Evertonians want success more than anything but will not accept a manager who does not buy in. Ask Ronald Koeman.
A Time for Everything
As the good book says, there is a time for everything, maybe even for you Rafa. So here are the things you need to do to be succesful at Everton.
- Win titles and cups.
- Show some pride in being the manager of one of the foremost clubs in English football.
- Apologise for the small club statement. A simple ‘I was wrong,’ after a win would go a long way.
- Show appreciation and understanding of the history of the club.
- Win some derbies.
- Wind up Klopp.
- Get involved in Everton in the Community.
- Replace the words ‘this club’ with ‘we’ and ‘us’ in press conferences.
- Entertain. Doesn’t always have to be pretty but entertain us.
This is the least you can do Mr Benitez. You chased this job despite your own chequered history with the club. You may not realise this but you owe Evertonians. This is a marriage of convenience between yourself and Everton. All marriages require work and not all of them start with love. But the best ones always end up that way. You may not love us and we sure as hell don’t love you Mr Benitez. But nothing lasts forever. And maybe one day, this relationship can become truly special.
It’s up to you Mr Benitez.