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What Rafael Benitez needs to get right at Chelsea
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Having just won the UEFA Champions League – the holy grail in the cold, Russian eyes of Roman Abramovich. Players, fans, even legends in the game were shocked with the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.
Di Matteo himself, knew what was coming. Abramovich told the Italian that he had to play Fernando Torres on that night in Turin. He knew he had to play Torres, after all, it was the owners wish. Not many people disagree with Abramovich to tell the tale, in fact, no one. Di Matteo elected to drop the Spaniard, after closely running an analysis on the striker.
He asked the clubs technical team for a breakdown of the 81 goals Torres scored during his time at Liverpool before his move to London – and a rather worrying pattern emerged for Di Matteo. At Anfield an astonishing 69% of his goals were due to defence splitting balls courtesy of Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso, who are both world class players. Now, that’s taking nothing away from the savvy midfield that Chelsea have. The likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar however like to pass their way around the opponent, they did not split defences like Xabi or slide in Fernando like Gerrard used to. They attempted to implement the philosophy that Barcelona used, the 'tiki-taka'.
Now, being a Spaniard you would expect Torres to be accustomed to such a display of footballing ability. However – if you compare Torres' international record to David Villa's, who is currently playing for Barcelona, the difference is frightening. In 101 caps for the Spanish national side, Torres has scored 31 goals. In comparison to El Guaje, who has 53 goals in just 85 appearances for the Spanish national side.
The cold, hard truth is that Roman Abramovich never wanted Roberto Di Matteo as manager of Chelsea Football Club. A regular feature of Di Matteo's reign was being asked when he would be given the full time job. After all, after AVB had been given such little time – the Chelsea team was in disarray. Di Matteo achieved the impossible and lifted the European Cup. He even told Abramovich, 'I won it!, I won it!'. With the excitement gleaming from his eyes, you could tell Di Matteo loved the club, just as much as Abramovich.
Rafael Benitez has been appointed till the end of the season as Chelsea boss, with undoubtedly one target, get Fernando Torres scoring. The Spaniard signed Torres for Liverpool and no doubt got the best out him very early on. Benitez will have to completely change the Chelsea line up to suit Torres, and although Chelsea fans may hate the Spaniard, he is the only one who truly knows El Nino.
Chelsea have a plethora of attacking options they can use to break down an opponent. Something that was so evident for the first 8 games of the season. However, Benitez has always been a fan of maintaining a fine line of balance between attack and defence. Unless all three midfielder's begin to put in a shift with the defensive duties – you can expect them not start together week in week out. Chelsea catch the eye with their attacking display – their defensive duties need work.
Something so evident with Benitez is how he doesn't take too kindly to owners sticking their nose in, evident with his departure from Liverpool and Inter Milan. Problem is, Roman Abramovich doesn’t like being told what to do. As difficult as it may be to see, the Russian loves his club. The two of them will need to draw a fine line under proceedings at the club. Who's in charge of what. Who decides this, who decides that. For a temporary manager this may seem drastic. After all, the perception is that Benitez is just holding the fort till Pep Guardiola becomes available.
Champions League Match Day Six will be an interesting one for Rafa and Chelsea. Chelsea will no doubt go out and beat Nodsjaelland, but unfortunately I dont think Juventus will get beaten by Shakhtar. After all, they're Italian. Known for their defensive tactics – playing for a draw will do just fine for Juventus. It looks increasingly unlikely for Chelsea to progress to the latter stages of the tournament, making them the first team to hold the infamous achievement. Which is a shame, after all, Benitez is one person you can back to succeed in European competition. Although, this may not be all bad. Chelsea fans will not remember Benitez for his exploits in the Champions League, thats long gone. They will pay attention to how he succeeds in the Capital One Cup, the FA Cup and ultimately, the Premier League. Without the distraction of European football – Chelsea will be keen to win a domestic treble.
Benitez will need to make his mark quickly with Chelsea, and there is no better time for the Spainard than this weekend's clash with Manchester City. Chelsea started the season firing on all cylinders – but find themselves four points adrift of the current Champions. A weakened Manchester City, who have just been dumped out of Europes elite competition, is an ideal start for Benitez with his new side. With the oppurtunity to climb the Premier League ladder and get back into title contention with the two Manchester clubs, Benitez will need to use all his wit and guile to master up a game plan to defeat Mancini's Manchester City.
If Benitez can get Torres to score this weekend and get a result against Manchester City, expect him to be an instant hit with the Chelsea faithful.
Will Rafael Benitez be successful at Chelsea?
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