I don’t know whether Rafa Benitez will be successful at Stamford Bridge but the level of abuse he’s already received from fans is scarcely believable and that was before he’d even had a game in charge. What I find even harder to understand though, is the almost total absence of any press criticism of the Chelsea supporters.
Just think back to the dark days of a long list headed by the likes of Souness, JFK and Sam Allardyce. Through gritted teeth we got behind all of them because as supporters we just get on with and back anybody who is in the role, a bit like the eleven on the pitch, no matter how bad it gets.
The football was abysmal under Allardyce and steadily got worse, while the results in his final eleven matches were relegation form. Yet until the very end, fans were still intent on backing the team on match days instead of slaughtering the latest useless manager we’d had foisted on us.
Despite the shocking football and results, when any Newcastle fans dared to say that Allardyce was failing and his buys had been disastrous, the press’ overwhelming message was who were the fans to think they knew better…respected manager…supporters haven’t a clue.
There were no limits to the patronising way that the press treated us, I think that with the countless managerial reigns we’d seen, we knew when we were seeing yet another manager dragging us further and further into misery.
Then we have Chelsea appoint a manager who won the Champions League with a very average Liverpool team and also countless other trophies, as well as the magnificent achievement of overcoming both Barca and Real to win the Spanish league with Valencia.
At his very first match, the fans have banners with ‘Rafa Out’ and ‘In Rafa we will never trust’, plus I think it’s the loudest I’ve heard the Chelsea fans at a match as they sang anti-Benitez chants throughout the match.
I watched in disbelief as afterwards, instead of the TV pundits putting the spotlight on the disgraceful behaviour of the fans, instead they were basically asking Benitez to justify why he was appointed.
The same in the written media, a general discussion of whether Rafa was the right appointment and not how dare the Chelsea fans slaughter a manager who has been there, see it, done it.
When Chris Hughton was sacked, many fans quite rightly were furious because he hadn’t been given a fair crack and there was justifiable worries that just when stability seemed to have been achieved it might have been thrown away needlessly.
In all of this though, while fans were understandably sceptical of Alan Pardew’s appointment, there was no matchday chants or demonstrations against the new manager.
Maybe that played a major part in him starting off with a 3-1 home win against Liverpool, whilst despite their costly squad, Chelsea have begun the Benitez reign with two home draws and failed to score a single goal, the fans’ focus on demonising their new manager instead of getting behind the team.
I would love to see what they’d have to say if JFK walked through the door next and of course what the press would say…about what they had to say.
Send in your letters/articles to [email protected]
Buy a copy of the new issue of our magazine for only £3 online HERE, it includes interviews with Ryan Taylor and Supermac as well as all the usual features and columnists. You can also buy Subscriptions online HERE, prices starting from £23, the perfect Christmas present.