Rooney emerges as favourite to replace Benitez at Everton

Former Everton striker Wayne Rooney has emerged as one of the favourites to replace Rafael Benitez at Goodison Park after the Spaniard was sacked on Sunday.

Benitez spent less than seven months in charge at Goodison Park and lost his job following Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Norwich – a ninth defeat in 12 Premier League games.

The Toffees now sit just six points above the relegation zone, with former Liverpool boss Benitez paying the price for a poor run of form.

Current Derby County manager Rooney played 117 games for Everton during two spells on Merseyside, breaking through at his boyhood club to make his first-team debut at the age of 16.

He returned in 2017 after a trophy-laden 13 years at Manchester United, where he won five Premier League titles, the Champions League, the Europa League, the FA Cup and three League Cups.

Ending his career as the all-time top goalscorer for both United and England, Rooney has since taken over at Derby, remaining with the club as the Rams entered administration and were docked a total of 21 points as a result.

Despite the financial issues, Rooney has guided Derby to eight wins this season and they climbed off the foot of the Sky Bet Championship with a win over Sheffield United on Saturday.

It was reported that Everton held an emergency board meeting on Saturday night at which Benitez’s future was discussed, with the decision to sack the Spaniard announced on Sunday afternoon.

A club statement read: “Everton Football Club can confirm the departure of Rafael Benitez as first-team manager.

“Benitez, who joined Everton in June 2021, has left the club with immediate effect.

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“An update on a permanent replacement will be made in due course.”

Everton fans at Carrow Road were furious with the team’s performance, expressing their views with chants and banners that the former Liverpool boss should not remain at the helm.

One supporter invaded the pitch in an attempt to confront Benitez, while at the final whistle a chorus of “sack the board” was heard as Everton fans booed their own team.

Benitez was appointed Everton manager in June 2021 – a highly controversial move given his previous time in charge of Liverpool.

Speaking in December, Rooney discussed rumours linking him with the managerial role at Goodison.

“I don’t think I could have missed them, to be honest,” he said when asked if he has seen reports linking him with the job.

“I obviously came up through Everton’s Academy, Everton fan, but I see the reports and I have had no communication with Everton Football Club.

“As far as I am aware they have got a manager in place, so for me to discuss anything like that, it’s not my place to do that. As I have said I am committed to this club.

“I think it is a credit to the staff, who work extremely hard, that you get linked with jobs, but that’s all it is.

“I have had no conversation with Everton Football Club regarding the manager’s job and so it is not even something I am thinking about.”

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