Rafa Benitez has opened up on the "challenge" of being the manager of Everton as he breaks his silence for the first time after being sacked.
Everton confirmed on Sunday that Benitez had left his role as manager after just six months in charge with the club in 16th place in the Premier League.
Following a promising start to the season with three wins from four, the Toffees' form dipped and they have won just one of their last 13 league matches.
Saturday's 2-1 defeat away to relegation threatened Norwich City proved to be the final straw for the Everton board.
Benitez has now given the Everton fans a farewell message in a post on his official website, which reads: “We knew it wouldn't be easy, and that it was a big challenge, both emotionally and in terms of sport.
“My love for this city, for Merseyside and its people, made me accept this challenge, but it is only when you are inside that you realise the magnitude of the task.
“From the very first day, my staff and myself worked as we always do, with commitment and full dedication, we didn't only have to get results, but we also had to win over people's hearts.
“However, the financial situation and then the injuries that followed made things even harder.
“I am convinced that we would have been better once the injured players were back and with the arrival of the new signings.
“The road to success isn't easy and sadly, nowadays in football there is a search for immediate results and there is always less and less patience; unfortunately circumstances have determined the results and it won't be possible to continue this project.
“In any case, thank you to the Board, to the staff, to the players, and to those fans who have supported us during this time.
“My best wishes for EFC. Rafa Benítez.”
Benitez leaves Goodison Park with Everton sat in 16th place in the table and just six points ahead of the bottom three.
Everton face Aston Villa at home next Saturday, but it is currently unclear who will be in the dugout with the club yet to appoint a caretaker manager.
Current favourites to replace Benitez include former manager Roberto Martinez, ex-player Wayne Rooney and Brighton boss Graham Potter.