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▶ Everton approach Belgium FA over bringing in Roberto Martinez to replace sacked Rafael Benitez [2022/01/17   ]

Everton want Roberto Martinez as their next manager, possibly on an interim basis until the end of the season, following the sacking of Rafael Benitez after less than 200 days in charge.

If appointed it would represent a remarkable return for Martinez who was at Goodison Park from 2013-16 before himself being dismissed.

Everton have made an official approach to the Belgian FA to speak to Martinez, where he holds the role of national team coach. Talks regarding compensation will follow, with the 48-year-old keen to return to Goodison Park

The Belgium Football Association will be loathe to lose the Spaniard in a World Cup year, although it appears there could be a compromise in which he is allowed to combine the two jobs until this campaign ends.

Belgium have friendlies in March before taking part in the Nations League in June although the situation is further complicated as Martinez is also the association’s technical director.

Although Everton’s initial approach was for him to be appointed on a permanent basis, it is understood Martinez may not be against taking on both roles. Given he was also dismissed, six years ago, a return may not meet with universal fan approval.

Martinez, who was considered for a return last summer, is not the only candidate under consideration by the Everton board but is the favourite and there is a growing expectation that a deal is imminent. Duncan Ferguson may, again, be placed in temporary control although it appears Everton’s preference is to not have a caretaker and to move for a permanent appointment.

It is understood that Jose Mourinho has already turned down an approach to leave Roma while Wayne Rooney - who has impressively led Derby County through a turbulent season - has also been tipped for a return and has his supporters among the hierarchy.

Benitez: 'We didn’t only have to get results, but we also had to win over people’s hearts'

Rafael Benitez, meanwhile, has admitted he did not realise the “magnitude of the task” following his sacking as Everton manager and claimed the job was made even harder because he had to try to “win over people’s hearts”.

After Everton issued a terse 40-word announcement on Sunday afternoon confirming the Spanird had been dismissed just six months into a three-year deal and following nine defeats in 12 Premier League matches, Benitez responded with his own lengthy statement.

The inevitable sacking came following the dismal 2-1 defeat away to Norwich City on Saturday, with Everton now 16th in the table and just six points above the relegation zone, with the club holding an emergency board meeting that evening. Everton’s fans at Carrow Road demanded the 61-year-old Spaniard “get out of our club” and a supporter ran onto the pitch to try and confront him.

The decision was quickly taken to replace Benitez even though he only signed a three-year deal last summer in an appointment that was not welcomed by Everton fans given his affiliation with Liverpool. It left Everton looking for their sixth manager in six years.

Initially Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri was determined to ride out the storm of fans’ unrest and give

Benitez time. He sanctioned three signings in the last fortnight, as well as allowing popular left back Lucas Digne after his fall-out with the manager.

Former director of football Marcel Brands also departed in December having lost a power struggle with Benitez - another sign that Moshiri was sure the Spanish coach could turn around his and Everton’s fortunes.

But the toxic mood at Goodison only worsened. Next weekend’s home game against Aston Villa promised to be played in an incendiary atmosphere if Benitez was still in charge.

In his statement, Benitez said: “We knew it wouldn’t be easy. It was a big challenge, both emotionally and in terms of sport. My love for this city, for Merseyside and its people, made me accept this challenge, but it is only when you are inside that you realise the magnitude of the task.

“From the very first day, my staff and myself worked as we always do, with commitment and full dedication. We didn’t only have to get results, but we also had to win over people’s hearts.

“However the financial situation and then the injuries that followed made things even harder.”

Everton fans took against the appointment of the ex-Liverpool manager from the outset, some leading protests before he had taken charge of his first match. Early results were encouraging but important players such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Yerry Mina have been missing at key times.

Fans make their feelings known during Everton's latest defeat - PA

"I am convinced that we would have been better once the injured players were back and with the arrival of the new signings," added Benitez.

"The road to success isn't easy and, sadly, nowadays in football there is a search for immediate results and there is always less and less patience; unfortunately circumstances have determined the results and it won't be possible to continue this project. In any case, thank you to the board, to the staff, to the players, and to those fans who have supported us during this time."

Within weeks of his arrival, it was obvious factions were emerging. Brands left in December after reacting to an angry supporter in the immediate aftermath of Everton’s Merseyside derby defeat.

“Do you think it is only the players,” the Dutchman responded, a public declaration of what had long been suspected behind the scenes. Benitez was not Brands’ choice, and the Dutchman increasingly looked like a man with a grandiose job title but no power to accompany it. Moshiri backed his manager and Brands - who only signed a new deal last summer - was out.

The public spat with left back Digne caused further rancour, with supporters taking the side of the player after he was dropped in mid-December.

When Digne was named substitute for the recent home game with Brighton and Hove Albion, he received a standing ovation from the Gwladys Street. Benitez never felt Digne was worth his £130k a week salary, but such arguments were drowned out, especially as the manager was not empowered by results or performances.

Benitez joins a lengthy list of managerial casualties since Moshiri took control of the club. Martinez, Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva were all dismissed for under-performance, and Carlo Ancelotti walked out when Real Madrid called in June.

The latest managerial upheaval has raised further questions about Moshiri’s judgement given the stark warnings about the consequences of recruiting Benitez.

- The origianl text resource is from Yahoo Sports

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