Well that’s it then. After Rafa Benitez’s comments criticising the agenda of supporters with their negative atmosphere in order to see the Spaniard out, you would have been forgiven for thinking the worse for the interim manager, but the build-up to Saturday’s kick off against West Brom to see a crescendo of boos to hound him were limited. The growing discontent has provided plenty of Chelsea news recently but fans put an end to media scrutiny in the best possible way, by backing the team and shutting up the journos.
Failing that there was the occasional outbreak of song that was soon followed by choruses of support towards the team throughout the match with anti-Rafa chants enduring a swift insufferable death if anything.
The whole saga had suddenly turned sour after Rafa’s midweek post match press conference, with a portion of blame being passed to a select group of supporters for creating a counterproductive atmosphere throughout Rafa’s time at the club. The most disappointing factor in this the fans that need to stay unified in times when the club is destabilized either way of which manager is in charge or directionless decisions made by the board. The negativity that has surrounded the club this season has deepened within the Club with some fans showing their dismay at the core group who chant the anti-Rafa songs.
Needless to say the majority of supporters agree with the principle theme of wanting Rafa out at the end of his contracted term, but the methods are obviously variable with how this is achieved.
Saturday was an improvement to say the least. There were more chants in support of the team and most negative chants were neutralised by other home supporters encouraged to diffuse the outbreak by trying to drown them out with the starting of another song.
The most damaging outcome of this entire episode is the reputation it is leaving. There is an anti-Chelsea parade in this whole sorry affair that has been led by the club’s indecisive method to take the club forward coupled by the on pitch performances and the fans reaction towards Benitez’ appointment. The most detrimental element is that fans outgoings has allowed clubs like Liverpool to take the moral high ground of constantly supporting Rafa and questioning Chelseas fans, which makes one wonder if they love the Spaniard so much they why don’t they take him?
Of course as paying fans, those that choose to register their disapproval have the right to do so, but a question deserves to be raised as to how substantial the method is. As a believer of supporting the team and club throughout the whole ninety minutes, perhaps the most suitable option is to hold protests before or after the game. Ultimately it is not up to anyone to determine how one supporter should support their club for the benefit of the team, whether that is coming from the Club, media or even fellow supporters. The most effective way of demonstrating your protest to promote dismay is economically, voting with your feet and not turning up to football matches, that will get the board listening.
With Rafa declaring his intention to leave at the end of the season and with the Champions League spot still up for grabs, it is now vital the kind of support shown on Saturday is sustained. It needs to be at the forefront of all match day supporters minds that Rafa is just here temporarily, but they will be there next season, Champions League or not.