Although it appeared that the hire of Rafael Benitez by Everton had the potential for disaster, the Toffees have begun the 2021/22 campaign well, beating Southampton on the opening day, and being tipped to pick apart Leeds United in their next fixture.
The former Liverpool manager was always going to be a controversial choice once it was confirmed he would be taking over at Goodison Park, however, results will determine just how much the Spaniard will be taken to by the die-hards.
If he can continue in the same vain as how he’s begun, there are reasons to believe Everton could be in for a great season.
Former Arsenal centre-back, Martin Keown, certainly thinks so, as he told the Daily Mail.
‘Many Everton fans were unhappy when Rafa Benitez was appointed but on the evidence of his first game, this could be a perfect marriage,’ he wrote in his weekend column.
‘[…] For Everton fans, it feels like they’ve got their team back. They’re playing with much more purpose and direction.
‘Benitez has got them up and running quickly. On Saturday they play at Elland Road, which will be at full capacity for a Premier League match for the first time in 17 years.
‘There’s no danger of Marcelo Bielsa falling asleep on the touchline, his side are the great entertainers and flood players around the ball. Every game is frantic, there’s a high press and a focus on man-to-man marking.
‘But as Manchester United showed, there is a way through. Leeds’ man-to-man approach makes it very difficult for their players to offer cover if one of them is pulled out of position.
‘[…] Bielsa needs to resolve that vulnerability when transitioning from attack to defence, or his side will be wide open to counter-attacks and teams will pick them apart.’
Of course, the season is not even two games old, so this isn’t the time to judge whether Benitez was the right or wrong appointment.
Everton will have a much better idea of where they’re at heading into the new year.