Has Rafael Benitez Improved Chelsea?
Roberto Di Matteo won the FA Cup and the holy grail, the Champions League. It had become an obsession with Abramovich to win the big one. Coming so close in 2008 and spending millions on different managers, it was the man who replaced Andre Villas-Boas and became Chelsea’s interim coach that won them the Champions League.
But just 6 months after their best day in history and defeat at the hands of Italian champions Juventus, Roberto Di Matteo was sacked. After a blistering start to their premier league campaign, Chelsea’s form began to dip. The Champions League holders also had a terrible campaign in Europe. Defeats to Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk meant that for the first time in the tournaments history, the holders didn’t make it out of their group.
With Di Matteo sacked, Abramovich’s next move had Chelsea fans in a fury. The Russian billionaire opted for former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.
Relations between Chelsea and the former Liverpool manager run deep. During Benitez’s time at Anfield, the rivalry between the two clubs was intense. They met twice in the Champions League semi-final with Liverpool coming out victorious on both occasions. The famous goal that never was in 2005 and after a tight affair, a penalty shoot out settled the teams in 2007.
When Chelsea equalised during the League Cup final in 2005, then manager Jose Mourinho put his finger to his mouth towards the Liverpool fans, to silence them after they were taunting him through the game.
But the real sour moment for the Chelsea fans was when Benitez attacked the club. He said that he would never manage the club and the fans need flags to get behind the team. This man, is now, Chelsea’s interim boss.
Abramovich brought Benitez in to steady the defence and to get the best out of Fernando Torres. His managing style is for his teams to be very well organised, hard to break down and be very effective on the counter attack.
Under Di Matteo, Chelsea were scoring goals, but looked vulnerable at the back. Now under Benitez, David Luiz has moved to a holding role and Benitez has partnered Ivanovic with Gary Cahill at the back. With John Terry returning, they look a more solid unit.
Going forward, Fernando Torres still looks a shadow of his former self. Chelsea have been scoring goals, but with the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Frank Lampard, Oscar and Victor Moses, Chelsea’s creativity was never lacking. With the arrival of Demba Ba, Chelsea’s options going forward looks very good.
So far Benitez has had impressive results. An 8-0 hammering of Aston Villa, a hard fought 2-1 victory away at Everton and a 4-0 victory away at Stoke. But even with these victories, Benitez has not won any admirers at Stamford Bridge.
Defeat in the final of the Club World Cup at the hands of Corinthians cost Chelsea the chance of another piece of silverware.
Defeat to Swansea in the Carling Cup Semi-Final will not have impressed the fans either. A shock 2-0 defeat at home left Chelsea with a lot to do at the Liberty Stadium. Eden Hazard’s red card overshadowed a poor second leg from Chelsea as they were unable to overturn their deficit and eliminated.
Chelsea fans want Benitez gone. With Pep Gaurdiola now going to Bayern Munich, fan favourite Jose Mourinho could be available in the summer. Fans would love the special one to return and Mourinho has mentioned he would like a return to Stamford Bridge.
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