It’s been a while since I wrote anything Chelsea, least of all here. But as the passion refuses to die down, and no matter how much I try to ignore it sometimes the world of Chelsea Football Club keeps clawing me back. Throughput the season I watched the ups and more recent downs through the usual clenched fingers and when Rafa Benitez replaced Robbie I thought I’d adopt a fair minded approach, unsullied by childish reactions to alleged slurs he made against Chelsea fans. Well, they aren’t really alleged are they?
But after the 3 months or whatever he’s been in charge I’ve now concreted both my feet into the Rafa out campaign, although even our basket case owner and board (Buck aside who I genuinely like) are unlikely to sack a second coach during the season. Although using the words ‘basket case’ might say more than enough. So here’s my theory on what benitez was thinking when he agreed tgo become our interim coach/manager.
He’s been very astute coming to us. Undoubtedly hanging on for a ‘big’ club but unemployed for close to 2 years. Much like George Graham he was in danger of becoming one of a long list of forgotten coaches (arguably Gullitt and Vialli suffered this as well). Coaching us though, even on an interim basis keeps his name in the public domain through the massive media interest in Chelsea. We’ll qualify 3rd or 4th for the CL next year and he’ll move on in my view. Villa, Newcastle and Leeds may be tempting him. And yes they are all big clubs despite what the CFC extremists might think. I also think there’s an outside chance Everton might call if we, as rumoured, go for Moyes (who deserves a big team shot in my view). Liverpool as a city doesn’t suffer the apartheid hatred seen in Glasgow or Milan. I have friends at work and out who live in blue and red split households and although the rivalry exists the associated hatred seen worldwide in multi-team cities isn’t. Think whatever you like about his coaching failings but his dignity in the way he dealt with the continuing aftermath of the Hillsborough 96 was clear to see. His compassion to the family of Rhys Jones (the young Everton fan shot in 2007) was also a sign of the inherent decency the man has. For that alone I doubt Everton fans would despise him as so many seem to do at Chelsea.
My beef with him is quite simple though and that is as a coach I think he’s mediocre, risk averse, inept, bland and incompetent. I hate his ‘don’t lose the game before you’ve won it’ tactics and his like for like substitutions outdo most in the game. Lest we forget Carlo Ancelotti was quite similar in this respect (maybe through lack of resource to be fair), and in fact Jose was the only really brave coach to gamble on huge tactical in game switches. But as we all know we expect more these days.
My concerns also range around the impact on his family. It can’t be pleasant for his children and wife to read and hear the abuse thrown at him from fans that happily hurl vile abuse at opposing fans, players and coaches. These Chelsea fans use the misguided but trivial comments he made as Liverpool coach as being something heinous for which can never be forgiven. No doubt as they called Arsene Wenger a paedophile, or RVP a rapist, or Peter Crouch a circus freak. A lot of them are doing this on twitter therefore making their comments as public as any football coach speaking to the press would ever do. The hypocrisy does seem rather lost on them doesn’t it?
So I won’t abuse him or tell him to ‘f**k off’. I will criticise his tactics, team selection and treatment of players as I would and have done to any previous coach. He is a decent, rather dull, average coach. Nothing more, nothing less. Rafa Benitez will be gone in the summer and we will have some other sacrificial lamb destroying his career and mental stability in charge for a few months before the madness repeats itself. Unless of course The Special One comes back and is allowed to impose his will over the entire playing side of the club. One can but hope! KTBBFH