Rafa Benitez was fired by Everton after 200 days in charge on Sunday with a brutal 40-word statement that offered no thanks to the manager whose appointment was always contentious with fans.

The Spaniard never overcame his successful association with Liverpool, whose stadium is only a mile (1.6 kilometers) from Goodison Park across Stanley Park, and his position became increasingly untenable as Everton sunk closer to the relegation zone.

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Everton has only one win in 13 league matches under Benitez, scoring 12 goals and conceding 27 in that time, although key striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin has only just returned from four months out injured to play two matches.

Benitez’s name was chanted at Anfield within minutes after the announcement by Liverpool fans during their match against Brentford on Sunday afternoon.

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They not only fondly remember his 2004-10 reign, which included leading Liverpool to the Champions League title in 2005, but also his part in the decline of such a fierce, local rival.

The end-game came for Everton with a 2-1 loss on Saturday to a team in the relegation zone — Norwich — which left Everton six points in front of the eastern England side.

“Everton Football Club can confirm the departure of Rafael Benitez as first team manager,” the club said in a statement. “Benitez, who joined Everton in June 2021, has left the club with immediate effect. An update on a permanent replacement will be made in due course.”

However delighted Everton supporters are to see Benitez’s departure, the ownership will also remain in their sights.

After a lavish and somewhat haphazard outlay of about $750 million on players since Farhad Moshiri became the club’s majority shareholder in 2016, Everton reined in its spending in the summer transfer window following the appointment of Benitez after Carlo Ancelotti went to Real Madrid. Four players came in at a total cost of barely $2 million.

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The fear has become about the danger of relegation — after collecting 19 points from the opening 19 matches and another 19 games to go — rather than trying to qualify for Europe for the first time since 2017 in the Europa League. While Liverpool has won the Champions League (2019) and Premier League (2020) since then, Everton is without a trophy since the 1995 FA Cup and hasn’t won the English championship since 1987.

But the club is ambitious for the future with plans to move into a new stadium by Liverpool’s waterfront — costing around $700 million — for the start of the 2024-25 season. Benitez won’t be the manager leading the team in it.

Among the contenders for the job are Wayne Rooney, the boyhood Everton fan turned precocious striker who went on to become the all-time leading scorer for England and Manchester United.

Rooney on Sunday marked a year as permanent manager of Derby. In his first coaching job, the 36-year-old Rooney has had to navigate ownership turmoil at Derby and has remarkably taken the team off last place despite a 21-point deduction for breaking league financial rules.

A more experienced appointment would see the return of Roberto Martinez, who led Everton to fifth place in 2014 which hasn’t been replicated since. The Spaniard went to coach Belgium and is now preparing to lead the country at a second World Cup in November having finished in third place in 2018.

Remaining in place at Everton is former midfielder Duncan Ferguson, who has been on the coaching staff since 2014 and has previously served as caretaker manager in 2019 after Marco Silva’s firing.

Benitez’s successor will be Everton’s sixth permanent manager in six years.