Benitez was sacked by Everton on Sunday following a short, dismal managerial reign that ended in an abject 2-1 defeat to relegation battlers Norwich at Carrow Road
Peter Crouch understands why Everton players may have turned on Rafael Benitez – but still regards the Spaniard as an ‘iconic’ managerial figure.
Benitez was fired just over six months after taking the job following a dismal 2-1 defeat at Norwich.
Many thought Benitez’s return to the blue half of Merseyside after his success at Liverpool was doomed from the outset.
And they were soon proved right as Benitez was dismissed as boss with the Toffees picking up just one Premier League win since September.
Everton are now just six points above the relegation zone and Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has been touted for a remarkable return to Goodison Park.
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Performance levels deteriorated drastically in Benitez’s final weeks in charge and some suggested Everton stars had downed tools due to the Spaniard’s methods.
Former England striker Crouch is well accustomed to Benitez’s ways after being managed by the 61-year-old during his three-year spell at Liverpool.
Crouch admitted in his Daily Mail column that training under Benitez was challenging and could grasp player frustration when results worsened at Everton.
“Training was not that enjoyable, it was quite regimented,” he said of his time under Benitez at Anfield.
“Very tactical and difficult mentally more than anything.
“That constant battle of keeping yourself switched on. You do not mind that if you believe and for me, it was a privilege to be at Liverpool — I’d do whatever I was told.
“But if things do go badly, you are not performing to the maximum, I can see how players could turn.”
Benitez has been an authoritative figure in his managerial career but has enjoyed great success when players buy into his methods, including the pinnacle of Champions League glory at Anfield.
Crouch does not believe Benitez’s status has diminished after his ill-fated Merseyside return.
“Rafa wants to control everything, really,” he added.
“At Liverpool when I was there, we had so many big characters that were onside. He was, and still is, an iconic figure.
“Everybody bought into what he was doing but if you do not then it becomes tricky.”
Liverpool fans rubbed salt in the wounds of Everton supporters after Benitez was jettisoned on Sunday.
The news of Benitez’s sacking filtered through during the Reds’ 3-0 victory over Brentford.
Benitez remains a hero at Anfield and his name was sung loudly on the Kop during the half-time pause.
There is a toxic mood at Everton and Liverpool supporters rejoiced knowing Benitez could not replicate his success at their city rivals.