Rafael Benitez was sacked as Everton manager on Sunday after just 200 days in charge of the struggling Premier League club.
Benitez was an unpopular fixture in June last year after his long stint with Everton’s Merseyside rivals Liverpool.
The Spaniard paid the price for a sad nine-game losing streak in Everton’s last 13 league games, culminating in a 2-1 defeat at Norwich on Saturday.
“Everton Football Club can confirm the departure of Rafael Benitez as first-team manager,” read a club statement.
“Benitez, who joined Everton in June 2021, has left the club with immediate effect.
“An update on a permanent replacement will be made in due course.”
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Former Everton striker Wayne Rooney, currently impressing as a second-tier Derby manager, is the bookmakers’ favorite to replace Benitez.
Rooney is a childhood Everton fan who had two spells at the club as a player either side of his successful spell at Manchester United.
He kept Derby competitive in the Championship despite a pair of point deductions and the club’s descent into administration.
Rooney’s former Everton team-mate Frank Lampard, sacked by Chelsea last year, is another candidate for the job.
Brighton boss Graham Potter and Paulo Fonseca, whose last job was with Roma, could also be in the running.
Under Benitez, Everton have picked up just 19 points from 19 league appearances, their lowest midterm tally for a season since 2005-06.
Everton fans had made clear their desire for Benitez to be knocked out in the soft defeat at Norwich.
They chanted his dismissal and held up a banner reading ‘Benitez, get out of our club’, while a supporter invaded the pitch in an attempt to confront the former Real Madrid boss.
Everton held an emergency board meeting on Saturday night to discuss Benitez’s future, with talks leading up to his departure on Sunday.
Benitez’s controversial appointment to replace Carlo Ancelotti following the Italian’s move to Real Madrid was a major gamble by Everton owner Farhad Moshiri.
Benitez had infuriated Everton fans by describing them as a “small” club during his time at Liverpool, which he led to a Champions League final triumph over AC Milan in 2005.
Merseyside Police investigated a threatening banner near Benitez’s home which read: ‘We know where you live, don’t sign’ ahead of his appointment.
Last month, Moshiri backed Benitez, saying the 61-year-old would have time to get it right with new signings and injured players returning.
But Everton’s results showed no signs of improving and, with the mood of the fans increasingly toxic, it was clear that Benitez would have to leave.
Across Stanley Park, Liverpool fans celebrated their rivals’ latest woes by chanting Benitez’s name when news of his sacking reached Anfield during Liverpool’s game against Brentford.
Benitez leaves Goodison Park with Everton languishing in 16th place, just six points above the relegation zone.