Wayne Rooney in the frame to replace Rafael Benitez as Everton boss

Following Rafael Benitez's sacking, we take a look at the contenders to replace him at Everton, including English trio Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Graham Potter.

It was always going to end like this, right?

Despite protests outside the club, ex-Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez was appointed as Everton manager in the summer.

Not backed in the transfer market like his predecessors, Benitez refused to complain and signed Andros Townsend on a free transfer alongside Demarai Gray from Bayern Levekusion for £1.75million.

And they made a promising start, picking up 13 from a possible 18. That was as good as it got though. In his last 12 league games, Everton tasted defeat in nine of them and losing to Norwich City was the loss that made Farhad Moshiri pull the trigger.

The Spaniard leaves them in 16th position, six points above the relegation zone. They earned just 19 points in as many games - the lowest points tally during the halfway point of a Premier League season for Everton since 2005/06.

Benitez exits the club with the lowest winning percentage of his managerial career in England at just 31.8%.

Planet Sport assesses who could replace Benitez at Goodison Park.

Wane Rooney

Wayne Rooney in action for Everton in 2018

Careful not to repeat their mistake, the Everton board reportedly have Wayne Rooney on their shortlist to replace Benitez.

Rooney would surely jump at the chance to take the reins, given his current plight at Derby County.

While he lacks the experience of Benitez, he has a large store of good faith in the bank, something Rafa was never able to tap into.

Rooney has also guided Derby County off the foot of the Championship table - an impressive accomplishment considering Derby's deduction of 21 points at the start of the season for financial breaches under former owner Mel Morris.

Kasper Hjulmand

Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark

After reaching the semi-finals at Euro 2020 it's no surprise that Denmark's Hjulmand is in high demand, but the rest of his managerial career may leave Everton fans a bit wary.

Following a humble playing career in Denmark, Hjulmand took charge at Lyngby and then Nordsjaelland, where he won the side their first Danish Championship.

He then replaced Thomas Tuchel at Mainz in 2014 and hit the ground running, going undefeated in his first eight league games to guide his side to the top of the Bundesliga.

However, a torrid run of results followed and he was sacked in February after sliding all the way down to 14th.

A further three years back at Nordsjaelland followed before he took charge of the Denmark national team in 2020.

Known for creating well organised and hard-working teams, Hjulmand's style is perhaps not too dissimilar from Benitez'. While that could have a good impact on the side upon his arrival, it's hard to see whether he's the long-term fix that the club need.

Nuno Espirito Santo

Nuno Espirito Santo Tottenham Sep21

After being sacked by Tottenham on November 1, Nuno could find himself back in charge of a Premier League side after just over two months out.

Of course, his suitability for the job will rely mostly on his success at Wolves rather than his failings in north London.

However, there was plenty disrupting Nuno's time at Tottenham, including Harry Kane's ongoing rumoured move to Manchester City. It was blindingly clear that he wasn't Spurs' first choice for the job, and so it wasn't really a surprise to see it not work out.

But at Everton, Nuno will likely be backed more, given more time, and has less pressure on his shoulders. Sure, he'll have to pick up the team and get some fairly quick results, but he'd certainly be a more wanted figure than Benitez ever was.

Duncan Ferguson

Duncan Ferguson, Rafa Benitez, Everton, manager

It was recently speculated that Ferguson was set to leave the club after two years as assistant manager, but he ending up staying as Benitez' right-hand man.

Ferguson is perfectly placed to pick up the pieces from Benitez it seems.

That was the case in 2019 when Marco Silva was shown the door, and Ferguson didn't disappoint in his brief stint as interim, leading his side to a 3-1 win over Chelsea in his managerial debut.

His passion on the touchline was warmly greeted by the fans, and having already built up a good relationship with supporters, he could help remove the hostile atmosphere that has recently clouded the club.

He's certainly a far more likeable figure than Benitez around Everton. The only issue is whether he'll have enough experience or tactical nous to meet their expectations.

He's been mentored by Carlo Ancelotti and Silva during his time as assistant manager, but whether that's enough to gift him the keys to the manager's office remains to be seen.

Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard on the sidelines with Chelsea Jan21

After being sacked by the Blues of London, could Frank Lampard return to management with the Blues of Liverpool?

The 43-year-old seemed nailed on to take charge at Norwich in early November, but decided against the move, with Dean Smith instead taking the role. If Lampard does manage to convince the board he's the right man for the job, he might be happy he did snub the Canaries.

There's far more talent for Lampard to work with at Goodison than at Carrow Road, and while Everton will demand consistent results, his attractive playing style will appease the fans and also afford him time to progress as a manager.

Lampard is still relatively untested as a Premier League manager, but after seeing the effect that Aston Villa have had when hiring a former Premier League icon in Steven Gerrard, the Toffees may be tempted to follow suit.

Graham Potter

Brighton chief hopes Graham Potter stays at the club ‘for many years to come’

Potter has done excellently at both Swansea City and Brighton, and having been linked with plenty of other vacancies in previous months, it only seems a matter of time until he makes the step up.

Especially after Potter questioned Brighton fans' decision to boo him and his team after their goalless draw with Leeds United in November.

Frankly, not many Brighton fans can complain with either the results or performances that Potter has brought to the club, especially as they currently sit up in ninth. If he's feeling unappreciated, he'll soon look elsewhere.

The 46-year-old has had plenty of success when given time to implement his own style, so he's a perfect long-term option for Everton, who would also back him better financially than Brighton are able to.

The vacancy is a good fit for both sides, it's just a matter of whether Potter would want to jump ship midway through a season.

Scott Parker

Scott Parker, Bournemouth, Manager

Another manager who will insist on playing a certain way is Scott Parker, who is in charge of Bournemouth.

In his first season at the Cherries, Parker has led his side to second place in the Championship, level on points with Blackburn in third place and two behind leaders Fulham.

He previously took charge of Fulham in the Premier League, and despite being relegated, he received plenty of plaudits for his expansive style of play.

Fulham just didn't have enough quality to go toe-to-toe with most top-flight sides, but that's not the case at Everton, who would also be able to back Parker in the transfer market.

However, while he's found success in the Championship, he's still yet to produce any results in the Premier League, and that will rightly concern Everton fans.

It'd be a huge risk if Parker was hired, especially given that Everton are by no means safe from the drop this season. So, while the idea of having a young and innovative manager in charge may excite some fans, it's unlikely that Everton will roll the dice on him this season.

READ MORE: Six Everton managers who were worse than Rafael Benitez

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