Everton parted company with Rafa Benitez after Saturday’s defeat against Norwich. According to The Athletic, Everton’s preferred option to take over their bench is Belgium national team manager Roberto Martinez.
The Spaniard is a familiar face at Goodison Park, having been in charge between 2013 and 2016 when he was sacked after finishing 12th in the Premier League. Martinez was considered an important candidate for the FC Barcelona hot seat before they made each of their last three managerial appointments, but in the end, he was never given the chance to taste life at Camp Nou.
Everton would like Martinez to take over on an interim basis until the end of the campaign. The 48-year-old is said to be open to the opportunity, but his current employer, the Belgian FA, would prefer he turned it down. If a move does happen, Martinez would want his current assistant Thierry Henry to join him as well.
Martinez: hard to get for Everton
Apart from FC Barcelona and Everton, several Premier League clubs have been thinking about hiring Martinez during the past years, including Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, and Newcastle. The Belgian FA wants the manager’s focus to be fully directed toward the World Cup at the end of the year, and have made their position known.
Derby County boss Wayne Rooney is second in line to replace Benitez, who was shown the door after just six-and-a-half months in charge. Martinez is at -150 to become Everton’s new manager, with odds suggesting the race is far from over. Rooney is behind at +350, while Duncan Ferguson (+450), Frank Lampard (+750), Nuno Espirito Santo, and Gennaro Gattuso (+1000) are also credited with chances.
Everton now sits 15th in the Premier League table, six points above the relegation zone. Rafa Benitez, a former Real Madrid and Liverpool manager, was appointed in the summer to transform the team into a contender for the European spots. He started on a high note, winning four of his first five official matches in charge, but never managed to convince the fans to back him. Large groups of supporters were openly against the hiring of Benitez, claiming they can’t get over his past at city rivals FC Liverpool.
Despite its troubling situation in the table, bookies don’t have Everton among their favorites for the drop this season. The Toffees are at +700 to get relegated, with Norwich (-1660), Burnley (-200), Watford (-200), Newcastle (-140) all ahead of them.