Benitez’s Everton appointment was understandably met with grim looks from the red and some of the blue half of Merseyside – although a minority took their
frustrations too far with threatening banners – but the former Liverpool boss is firmly in control of the reins following Carlo Ancelotti’s return to Real Madrid.
The Spaniard has technically already claimed one piece of silverware during his fledgling Toffees career – steering Everton to a Florida Cup success with a penalty shootout win over Millonarios – but their most recent pre-season game ended in a 4-0 humbling at the hands of Manchester United.
Of course, a crushing defeat in Manchester is exactly how Everton ended their 2020-21 season at the home of the champions – with Sergio Aguero netting twice in
his farewell game during a 5-0 success for Manchester City – and Toffees fans will need no reminding that they won just three of their final 12 games last season.
On a more positive note, not since the 2011-12 season have Everton lost on the opening weekend – a 1-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers – and the return of the Goodison Park faithful ought to help them recover from a dismal record of two wins from 12 league games at home since the turn of the year.
A trio of underwhelming incomings in Asmir Begovic, Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend have not exactly served to increase the optimism on Merseyside, but the big story out of the Southampton camp has been the sudden sale of a certain centre-forward.
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Despite previous optimism that he would pen a new deal at St Mary’s, Danny Ings’s departure to Aston Villa was confirmed while Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side welcomed Levante to the South Coast, but the Saints have moved quickly to fill the void left by the prolific poacher.
Adam Armstrong and Armando Broja have both arrived at a Southampton side aiming to right the wrongs of the second half of their 2020-21 Premier League campaign, as the side tipped for a shock Champions League place at one point ended up languishing in 15th place come May.
Southampton’s preparations for the new season did not end in ideal fashion, as Athletic Bilbao eased to a 3-1 success upon their recent visit to English soil, but Hasenhuttl has witnessed his side secure wins over Levante, Cardiff City and Swansea City, although their away form from the back end of last season will be music to the ears of Everton fans