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When West Ham United recruited Manuel Pellegrini, they were signing a ­Premier League-winning manager.

They were also signing a manager in his sixties whose most recent act had been to take the Chinese shilling to boost his pension.

And he had been pretty lousy out there.

Ditto one-time Champions League-winner Rafa Benitez, who managed to win a meagre 12 of his 38 games in charge of Dalian Professional while ­earning an estimated annual salary of £12million.

Pellegrini actually won 22 of his 52 games at Hebei China Fortune, but hardly set the place alight.

Yet he was still handed a plum Premier League job.

Rafael Benitez was Liverpool manager for six years but is now being linked with their rivals Everton
(Image: Trinity North West)

And it looks as if Benitez can still get a plum Premier League job. At Everton. Not just a plum job, but a great job at a great club.

Of course, Benitez had a great job at a great club, but left Newcastle United for a ­whopping deal in China.

Which is fair enough.

When you get to that age, stuffing your retirement pot is a sensible option.

And this would just be blue icing on the nest-egg cake. If Everton were to appoint ­Benitez, it would not be ­unimaginative.

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After all, who could ever have imagined them appointing a guy whose halcyon days were 15 years ago ago in charge of their bitter cross-city rivals?

No wonder Liverpool fans, who have Rafa’s ‘small club’ jibe in their locker, can barely ­contain their mirth at the ­prospect of Benitez running things at Goodison Park.

What a contrast to Jurgen Klopp.

Nice guy, Benitez.

Everton fans have made their feelings clear

Has been a good coach and is clearly a decent man. But across the park, Liverpool have a manager who GETS the club, who is in his prime, who is fiercely ambitious, who sees his current job as the absolute ­pinnacle of his career.

Benitez, after the money-grab in China, will be on job No.13.

And he would probably do it well, give it his all and make Everton hard to beat.

With an overhaul of an ­unbalanced squad, they could even get competitive in the top half of the table.

But if Everton and Farhad Moshiri have a long-term ­project, is Benitez really the right man for it?

He has not lasted more than three years at a club since he left Anfield in 2010.

He has had six jobs since then.

Those who suggest there are no stand-out alternatives might have a point. I would go for Eddie Howe, but am probably in a minority of one on ­Merseyside.

Yet, surely there has to be a more forward-thinking, more dynamic, more adventurous alternative to good old Rafa?

And, while it might not be politically correct and out of sync with modern-day thinking, Benitez has always declared his undying love for Liverpool.

Everton Owner Farhad Moshiri will face a huge fan backlash if he appoints Benitez
(Image: EMPICS Sport)

Tribalism might be a no-no in the 21st century, but rivalry must still count for something.

Benitez belongs in Anfield’s hall of fame – not in Everton’s hotseat.

Moshiri is looking for his fifth permanent manager and he only took over in 2016.

You can understand why his head is being turned by Benitez.

But if he gives Rafa the gig, it won’t be long before he is ­looking for his sixth.