Talk about New Year’s blues. Can Everton really imagine a more nightmarish scenario than in the middle of the season when Farhad Moshiri took on the most controversial appointment in football history on Merseyside when he signed Rafa Benitez last summer?
At the time, Everton fans’ biggest concern about the Spaniard was that between 2004 and 2010 he was the man in charge of their domestic rivals.
Now is whether the 61-year-old is actually able to stop them from getting bogged down in a relegation battle.
Before the match started, there were two banners prominent at the end of the match on Karoo Road.
The first – captured by BBC One cameras and broadcast to the national audience seven days ago during the FA Cup third round match in Hull City – declared: “Benitez, get out of our club.” The other is simply: “remove the plank.”
The first half of the season under Benitez was not good enough but there were extenuating circumstances.
As the Blues chief himself has insisted on more than one occasion, things will get better.
But when exactly will that happen?
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The Cavalry is now on its way back with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and the rest of Everton’s injured staff now back to fitness.
They were facing a Norwich City side who had lost their last six Premier League games in a row and had not scored in the competition since late November, but here the basement team snatched two within several minutes.
Everton may have thought they sank rocks by crushing the Merseyside derby 4-1 on December 1 when Liverpool fans taunted Benitez on their way to their squad and scored their biggest Goodison goal in nearly 90 minutes in 40 years.
But while this was football hell for the Blues, and defeats by the Reds hurt the most, this, given the nature of the opponent, was certainly worse and more painful.
Raving Norwich fans – who threw the same chants of Marco Silva at Goodison in November 2019 when the local team fans joined – were already chanting, “You got kicked out in the morning” when Adam Eddah doubled their lead just moments after Michael Keane converted a cross into his own goal in the match. editorial.
Substitute Richarlison’s stunning strike gave Everton hope, but in truth it has rarely given Tim Kroll much to care about.
Despite his old team’s low profile, former Norwich player Darren Eddy sensed an opportunity, writing on the match-day programme: “It’s no secret that Everton are far from the happy camp at the moment as turmoil grows towards coach Rafa Benitez.
“Appointing a former Liverpool manager was always a huge risk and now with one win in twelve Premier League games, Benitez is under fire. I would like to think Norwich can smell blood this afternoon and capitalize on that.”
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This is another problem in itself. Even the weakest team in the division defines the blues as a soft touch.
Just over two years ago, Norwich fans had to wait another two weeks before Silva’s prediction came true.
Where does Benitez go from here and how much time will he have?