Ian Rush: Rooney and Big Dunc Dream Team Could Revitalise Everton
Given his successful spell as Liverpool manager, I was surprised when Rafa Benitez took the Everton job last summer.
I know he has a lot of affection for the city of Liverpool, but when it comes to football and the rivalry between the Reds and the Toffees you can really only be on one side or the other.
Arriving into Goodison with his past on his shoulders, Rafa really needed to hit the ground running to win over the doubters, but although there was some early promise, he wasn’t able to build on that.
He was never really going to be afforded much room for error so the pressure was high from day one, and when you throw in a series of injuries, he was always likely to struggle.
Unfortunately, he’s paid the price for it now as the defeat at Norwich looked to be the last straw, particularly for the supporters who I’ve no doubt played a big part in the decision to sack him.
Everton fans are very loyal and had made their feelings clear in the build-up to Rafa being sacked, but up until the Norwich game I do wonder if the board even had any intention of dismissing him.
He seemed to be given the green light to conduct January transfer business, such as selling Lucas Digne and bringing in Nathan Patterson, so to me it appeared as though they were planning to stick with the manager.
That was not the case, as it turned out, but maybe being beaten by the league’s bottom club changed things. If he’d managed to avoid defeat in that game, I reckon he’d still be in charge.
But sooner or later you have to start listening to the fans so it would probably have come to this eventually. I feel for Rafa, I genuinely wanted it to work out for him at Everton, but it wasn’t to be. I’m sure he’ll bounce back.
Boot Room Style Culture Needed
Duncan Ferguson has taken interim charge of Everton and he’s got a tough game to oversee this weekend against Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa. It’ll be interesting to see how the players respond to Big Dunc, because if he can get them playing then you have to question whether they were buying in to Rafa’s tactics.
Every player should be giving 100 per cent for the club no matter who the manager is, but Big Dunc is Everton through and through, so there’s no better man to drum into the players what’s at stake for the club.
He might even fancy taking the job permanently this time himself – he’s done well when he’s taken charge of the first team in the past – but at the moment reports suggest both Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard are in the frame.
They’re both promising young managers. Lampard did a good job at Derby but things didn’t go to plan at Chelsea and he seems to be biding his time over his next move, but I’m sure the Everton job would interest him.
The Rooney angle interests me more though. If you had Wayne Rooney in charge with Big Dunc next to him, that’s a hard-core Everton base to work from. It’s all well and good appointing a good candidate for the job, but they have to have the right team around them.
I always think back to the Boot Room culture we had at Liverpool back in our heyday. It was never just a manager, it was a team of people around him and there was always trust.
At the height of our success in the 1980s, a lot of it came down to the personnel we had in and around the changing room – Joe Fagan, Ronnie Moran, Roy Evans. Everyone had a job to do and there was no one trying to take Bob Paisley’s job, there was an unbreakable level of trust.
I look at Jurgen Klopp now and the team he has around him – you know he trusts those he has close to him. That’s what Everton need to aim for, and I wonder if Rooney linking up with Ferguson could be the start of something big.
Rooney-Ferguson a Dream Duo
Rooney’s doing fantastic work with Derby this season and if he can save them from relegation, then it’s an absolute wonder job. Maybe he’ll want to finish what he’s started, but Everton is his home so it might be hard to resist if they come calling.
One thing he’d get in the Everton job which Rafa didn’t is time. The fans wouldn’t turn on him too quickly, especially not if he has Big Dunc in his corner.
Everton have tried the glamour moves of appointing the likes of Carlo Ancelotti, Benitez and even Ronald Koeman before that, but none of them have worked out, so maybe having their old boys in charge might get them back on track.
Another club legend who would make sense to me is David Moyes, because he knows the club inside out. The problem is, he’s got a really good thing going on at West Ham and I’m not sure he’d be willing to leave that project behind just yet.
I’ve read Jose Mourinho being mentioned as a possibility too and since things aren’t going quite so well for him at Roma, the Everton job would probably appeal to him.
Jose is a great manager, and although things didn’t really work out for him at Manchester United or Tottenham, I still feel he has a lot to offer and the Premier League is what he knows best.
It would be a risk for Everton though. Like I said, they’ve gone for the big names in their last two appointments and they haven’t worked out. Would they take that chance after what happened with Benitez? I’m not so sure.
Peter Robinson Tribute
I was very saddened to hear of the passing of former Liverpool chief executive Peter Robinson, who played a big part in the most successful period in the club’s history.
He loved Liverpool Football Club and worked tirelessly to tie up all the deals while the manager looked after the players, the tactics and the training.
Peter was always working away in the background, sorting out contracts and keeping Liverpool at the top. He was a very hard man to deal with – very firm but also very fair.
I see some of the agents who are involved in football today and, I tell you this, they would have a more difficult job if they had Peter Robinson to deal with.
He didn’t speak a lot to the players even though he worked very hard to get some of the signings over the line, always doing what was best for the club.
We used to joke that if Peter Robinson spoke to you, you’ve made it at the club. I spoke to him when I first signed for Liverpool and it’s quite possible I never spoke to him again until I was leaving for Juventus.
He was heavily involved in bringing me back from Juventus in 1988 – I remember speaking with him quite a lot at that time. But one thing about Peter was his ruthlessness. He would never allow himself to become friends with players because he knew, further down the road, he might have to sell you.
But he was always very fair and very good at what he did and that’s why he’s a major part of the club’s history.
League Cup Semi Wide Open
Liverpool are back in action at Arsenal on Thursday and there’s still a lot in the balance with a place in the League Cup final against Chelsea at stake.
Arsenal defended really well when they went down to 10 men in the first leg while Liverpool really missed Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Liverpool couldn’t get in behind Arsenal so they tried to go down the middle instead, but it didn’t work and Arsenal deserve credit for that.
There’s still a lot to play for and I hope the 3-0 win over Brentford gave the players the confidence they need in front of goal in the absence of Salah and Mane.
I was a bit surprised to see Klopp name such a strong team in the first leg, but it shows you he’s taking this competition seriously. I thought Caoimhin Kelleher would have been given the nod in goal as a reward for his League Cup performances so far, but Alisson is Klopp’s number one at the end of the day.
Having gone full strength in the first leg, I suspect he’ll do the same in the away game in Thursday.
Liverpool Transfer Rumours
Erling Haaland is one of the best players in the world – I don’t think there’s any doubt about that – so it’s no surprise to see Liverpool being linked with such a top player.
There’s been a lot written about Haaland’s future this week and Liverpool are one of several sides being touted as a potential destination this summer.
He would certainly improve Liverpool and he’s very young, which would appeal to the owners. He also has the release clause so he wouldn’t even be that expensive for the modern market, but it all depends what he wants for himself.
I would imagine he’s very much interested in the Premier League because it’s the best league in the world, but what I will say is that he’s a very different type of player to what Liverpool usually look for.
He’s a big striker and provides a real focal point up front, so if he was to come to Liverpool it might mean Klopp plans to change up the style a little bit. But he likes his sides to play as a team and with Haaland you’d want to build a side around him, so I’m not so sure how much truth there is in the rumours.
He is world class though, so you can see why any team would be interested in signing him. I still think Salah is the best player in the world at the moment and I’d love him to sign a new contract.
Salah has 18 months left and it seems like there’s a long way to go in the negotiating, but hopefully it gets resolved, which we’d all love to see from a Liverpool perspective.
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