Rafa Benitez risks ruining his Liverpool legacy by joining Everton

Robbie Copeland
Benitez is on the verge of taking the Everton job
Benitez is on the verge of taking the Everton job / STR/Getty Images

Rafa Benitez is on the verge of becoming the new Everton manager.

And if you're asking 'why?!' then rest assured, you're not the only one.

The Spaniard is a legend across Stanley Park at Liverpool. Prior to Jurgen Klopp, he remains by far their best manager of the 21st century, winning the Champions League, the FA Cup, and eight Merseyside derbies at Everton's expense.

So when the news emerged that he is set to be appointed as their new manager, becoming just the second coach ever to cross the Merseyside divide, it's easy to see why those of a blue persuasion were less than pleased.

The decision-makers at Goodison Park see him as the ideal replacement for Carlo Ancelotti, and in many ways he is the ideal candidate. He is similarly experienced and has a track record of winning trophies, and Everton could certainly do with someone like that. The last time they won anything, it was 1995, and Benitez was still in charge of the Real Madrid B-team.

The issue is that the board have desperately misjudged how much some are willing to swallow in order to get there.

There is a large section of Everton fans who would rather go another 26 years without winning a trophy than ever see a former Liverpool manager in charge of their club. And whether you think they are naive and stubborn or morally superior to the rest of the fan-base, their very presence means that Benitez will be under the microscope from day one.

It almost has to be admired that the Spaniard, now in his 60s, seems prepared to go where so few have ever gone before and face that challenge head on. But perhaps there is a reason that no manager since William Edward Barclay in the late 1800s has coached both teams. It's hard to imagine it will be worth the pressure it welcomes.

It's not even as if Benitez needs the Everton job. With all due respect to the Toffees, they aren't that special. Virtually every club of their stature, and some even greater, would be keen to bring him in.

So what is it about Everton that has caused the sudden change of heart? And why does he think it's worth potentially taking a huge dent to his reputation, and his mythical standing at Anfield, in the process?

The sad fact of it is that if Benitez is to be the next Everton manager, something has to go.

Succeed, and his entire relationship with Liverpool - to whom he delivered one of the most famous nights in their history in Istanbul - is on the chopping block.

Fail, and his chances of one day managing a top Premeir League club again go up in smoke.

Is it really worth it, Rafa? We're hoping so.