Everton sacked manager Rafa Benitez on Sunday following its 2-1 defeat at Norwich City which left the Merseyside club six points above the Premier League relegation zone in 15th place.

Appointed six months ago, the former Liverpool manager was a controversial choice for Everton supporters and after a promising start to the season his side has slumped down the league.

"Benitez, who joined Everton in June 2021, has left the Club with immediate effect," Everton said in a statement. "An update on a permanent replacement will be made in due course."

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The pressure began to mount on Benitez after a 4-1 humbling by his former club at the start of December as Everton suffered its heaviest home Merseyside derby league defeat in 39 years.

Everton's Director of football Marcel Brands left his role after being confronted by supporters as he left the director's box following that loss and there have been reports of conflicts elsewhere in the club.

Everton has won just once in the Premier League since September and travelling supporters at Carrow Road turned their anger on the Spaniard and the club's board at the end of itsdefeat by Norwich.

Former Real Madrid and Valencia boss Benitez is the latest manager to have failed to live up to expectations at Goodison Park and it is now looking for its seventh head coach in six years.

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Since current Belgium manager Roberto Martinez left the club in 2016, Everton has turned to Dutchman Ronald Koeman, Englishman Sam Allardyce, Portugal's Marco Silva and Italian Carlo Ancelotti before Benitez's brief reign.

Under British-Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri's ownership, Everton has invested heavily in players for all those managers but results have remained disappointing.

The club, which is building a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, has not finished in the top six since 2014.

The 61-year-old Benitez, who won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, returned to the Premier League after a spell in China followed his time at Newcastle United.