Would Newcastle Fans Appreciate Rafa Benitez More Than Chelsea ‘Supporters’?
Rafa Benitez bowed out of Stamford Bridge with his head held high and another taste of silverware which will be used to update his impressive CV.
Whatever the future holds for the Spaniard, in his short spell at Chelsea the message to Rafa will simply be a case of job done.
The treatment that Rafa has received during his brief reign has been appalling. The fans were against him from day one and will certainly not be sad to see him leave Stamford Bridge for the final time.
There is a fine line between hero and villain when it comes to football management. Those who cheer your name can easily turn on you and vice versa but in this case Rafa was never given a chance.
The motives for the fans dislike is understandable to an extent. Rafa had mocked the fans for the use of plastic flags and he had to fill the shoes of Roberto Di Matteo who is held in high regard amongst the terraces of the Bridge.
Hardly the worst crimes to have committed. Jose Mouriniho didn’t pull many punches and tricks towards Liverpool in his first reign at Chelsea but I’m pretty sure the Kop would have welcomed him to their club had he ever joined Liverpool.
The reality is although Di Matteo worked miracles, it was always going to be a short-term solution. Last summer many believed RDM wasn’t even going to be offered the Chelsea job on a permanent basis and when he was, we all knew the first sign of things going wrong and Roberto was gone. The league slump and imminent Champions League exit was the ammunition needed for ruthless owner Roman Abramovich to pull the trigger.
So with the view of bringing in a interim manager, who better than a man with 2 La Ligas (neither of which were with Barcelona or Real Madrid), 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 UEFA Cup, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, 1 FA Cup, 1 FA Community Shield, 1 Supercoppa Italiana and 2 World Manager of the Year awards on his CV to do the job.
Rafa’s task was simply. Get Chelsea into next season’s Champions League. He did it. Along with that he reached both domestic cup Semi-Finals and led Chelsea to a dramatic late Europa League cup triumph.
The season he has had makes me wonder how far Chelsea could continue to go under his lead next season. However, we will never know.
One quality Rafa showed the world he has which was never tested before, was his ability to work in a hostile environment. His proof of rhino thick skin and professionalism demonstrated during his spell would certainly have won over many of his previous critics.
I saw a Chelsea fan interviewed on TV on his way to Amsterdam. When asked if he thought Rafa deserved any credit for being in the final he replied, “it’s down to the players, not him”.
If only I was the man asking the questions. My next question would have been, “So Di Matteo deserves no credit for last season’s Champions League victory does he not?”.
With this attitude of ungratefulness the Chelsea supporters don’t deserve a manager as decorated as Rafa. He has all the qualities of a top football manager and some club will be set to benefit from him next season. I wish him all the best and congratulate him on a good job he has done during a difficult 6 months in London.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattpassant
Champions League Final 2013
7.45pm Saturday 25th May – live on ITV1
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