Who is the greatest Everton manager who never was? It is a question that has been explored before – and in the wake of our recent form may be explored once more – and yet the answers remain as shocking and surprising as ever.
Managers are the bearers of a club’s honour, so to think that two ex-Liverpool icons have come so close to becoming the Everton manager is unthinkable to say the least.
Nevertheless, from Clough to Revie via two Liverpool bosses and an ex-England manager, here are some of the men who came so close to taking the Everton hot seat but never did.
Rafa Benitez is a Liverpool legend, an icon even. He won one FA Cup, one FA Community Shield, one UEFA Super Cup and, remarkably, one UEFA Champions League. Despite leaving the club “by mutual consent” in 2010, Benitez remains popular with the Kop faithful. That popularity, however, would have quickly evaporated if he had taken the Everton job back in 2013. Fact; and we know how Rafa loves a fact or two.
Benitez was unemployed for the sum of seven days back in 2013 when Everton were also on the lookout for a new boss; a match made in heaven? Apparently not. Rafa’s people were approached and talks were positive, however, the man who once labelled Everton a “small club” was never to be accepted by the fans who once abused him.
The Blues turned to Roberto Martinez – who had won the FA Cup as recently as that season – while Benitez went on to win the Italian Cup, Super Cup and ultimately leave Napoli for Real Madrid.
Martinez was sacked in 2016.
In the summer of 1977, Everton missed out on the best boss they never had – a man who would have suited Everton and he knew it. Approached no more than four times, Bobby Robson never became Everton manager despite even accepting the job.
“We agreed a 10-year deal. It was the original offer I couldn’t refuse – and I didn’t,” said Robson. However, after Sir John Moores made the deal public despite Robson’s request not to, the then Ipswich Town boss ripped up what he descried as “a rather large cheque” and thus, he never became Everton manager.
Four times Everton tried to land Robson. Four times they failed. Indeed, what he said about the club showed just what the Blues had missed out on: “Let’s face it, Everton are a magnificent club, every bit as big as Liverpool and success would elevate it to the stars. The club is one of the gems in the English crown.”
In the very same summer that Robson turned the Blues down, another iconic leader was touted for the job. Once odds-on for the Everton mangers job, Brian Clough apparently said that he would have “loved” to have managed Everton “but they bottled it;” now why doesn’t that surprise us.
Whether this was true or not, Clough remained a huge admirer of Everton’s. Known for his classic one-liners, the future Forest boss provided the Blues with one of their most famous mantras: “Nobody [does] it better than Everton.”
He wasn’t wrong.
Shankly and Revie
While Everton were chasing Robson and Clough around the country with a contract and pen in the summer of 77, a Liverpool icon wanted the job himself.
Speaking to former lord mayor Eddie Clein, Shankly exclaimed: “They’ve had enough of Bingham and they are looking for a new manager. Tommy Docherty has let them know I could be interested. If they contact me and the offer is right I’ll take the job.” They didn’t, but just imagine if they did. Indeed, was Shankly the greatest manager Everton never had?
Another managerial giant never to take the Everton managers job was Don Revie:
“Don Revie’s possible move to Everton was brought a step nearer with a breakfast time talk at the home of Everton’s wealthy chairman,” wrote the Evening Post; showing just how close the Leeds boss came to taking the hot seat at Goodison Park.
The Dixie Dean Hotel
The Dixie Dean Hotel is set to complete Liverpool’s upcoming Football Quarter. The luxury venue is to take pride and place opposite the now famous Shankly Hotel, which celebrates the life of Liverpool’s legendary leader.
The stunning hotel – unlike anything seen before – is to provide Evertonian’s with an unrivalled experience, ideal for overnights stays, watching the match and basking in and enjoying unseen memorabilia.