Rafa Benitez is not a name that commands much love on the blue half of Merseyside, especially after his horrid spell as Everton boss in the 2021-22 season. During his reign as Everton manager, Anthony Gordon had an extensive role in the team and he did flourish, becoming a regular part of the team.
When Carlo Ancelotti departed in the summer of 2021 to join Real Madrid, the Everton faithful wouldn’t have imagined even in their wildest dreams that Benitez would take over the reins at Goodison Park. He did. In less than seven months of this uneasy marriage, Benitez was sacked as the Toffees seemed headed for a nightmare.
Following a 2-1 defeat to relegation battling Norwich City, Everton sacked Benitez as the Merseysiders were also thought to be on the same trajectory as Norwich. If the club hadn’t made the necessary change at the helm, they would have suffered the same fate as Norwich. It took a herculean effort from Frank Lampard and his troops to avoid relegation and secure safety on the penultimate match day of the 2021-22 season.
Former Everton boss Rafa Benitez reveals how he handled Anthony Gordon
Under Benitez, Everton looked hardly a convincing and commanding side. There were very few positives to take from Benitez’s era at Goodison Park but one was the development of Gordon. Under Ancelotti, Gordon was knocking on the door for being a starter but he was still raw and learning the art.
Under Benitez, he was handed a regular role as he made back to back appearances and was on course to be a starter if his development continued in the right dirction. He eventually did become an indispensable part of the team under Lampard.
Benitez’s two former sides, Real Madrid and Liverpool lock horns in the UEFA Round of 16 and ahead of the tie, the 62 year old spoke to Spanish media outlet AS and answered questions on Vinicius Junior who regularly gets fouled. Benitez draw a comparison on how he handled Gordon at Everton, a player similar to Vinicius.
"It depends on each one. In the case of Vinicius we are talking about a very fast player who confronts people. It is his game and his virtue. My last player like that is Anthony Gordon [at Everton]. You have to talk to him, teach him with videos when this or that happens, educate him to anticipate game situations and minimise the opponent’s chances of stopping him with fouls. (via Sport Witness)"
Gordon eventually left Everton, forcing his way out of the club in January after handing in a transfer request. Everton received £45 million from Newcastle United for the Englishman but failed to sign a replacement in the January transfer window. The Toffees will now look to sign reinforcements in the summer and signing a winger could be high on the agenda.
Was Anthony Gordon a bright player under Rafa Benitez?