Benitez’s time at Chelsea is ending in a predictable mess

There’s a well-known phrase that goes along the lines of it being best to avoid making a mess on your own doorstep.

Well, Rafael Benitez has made a dirty great mess with his ‘outburst’ after the FA Cup win over Middlesbrough, having a pop at the fans who continue to boo him and the club he believes have failed to properly back him.

And it’s a mess of such epic proportions that the clean-up operation looks nigh on impossible.

It will be staggering if he is still at the club come the end of the week, but with Chelsea nothing should be surprising.

Reaching breaking point and rounding on the supporters who booed him from the off, although understandable, was one thing.

But laying into the club for their handling of his appointment was akin to handing in his resignation.

“Chelsea gave me the title of interim manager, which is a massive mistake,” the 52-year-old said. “I’m the manager.

“I have a title. Someone decided the title would be interim. Why? Just in case. Fine, that is your decision. I don’t agree, but that is your decision and now everybody has to take responsibility.”

Abramovich has made unpopular choices.
Abramovich’s decision backfired.

The sad truth is this sticky situation was confidently predicted by pretty much everyone.

Only a near perfect set of results would have appeased Chelsea fans – and then only to a point.

Rafa would never be popular, and would never be accepted.

Every selection was questioned, every substitution criticised, every comment pulled apart and over-analysed.

His background and comments made while at Liverpool proved too much for most Blues fans. They would never give him a chance.

And therein lies the problem. It simply should never have happened in the first place – and the club and owner Roman Abramovich should have known it.

If supporters had been asked for the one man they did not want in charge, an overwhelming percentage would have plumped for Benitez.

The best-case scenario was an uneasy truce forced by incredible results and brilliant performances.

He has won 14 and lost six of his 27 games in charge. But a series of unconvincing displays – including a demoralising semi-final defeat against Swansea – meant the uneasy truce never looked like lasting.

There have been some impressive performances and some fine results too.

The first half against Arsenal was as good a performance as witnessed in a long time. But the turmoil surrounding the club somehow always seem to affect things.

If Chelsea supporters step back from the latest carnage, then much of what he has said has been spot on.

The booing, the anger and the negativity affects the team and the club messed up big time in giving him his unusual title.

The delay in confirming Roberto Di Matteo as manager strongly suggested he was only ever an interim appointment and, as many have taken great pleasure in saying, isn’t every Chelsea ‘boss’ an interim manager at the moment?

Benitez obviously had enough of the hatred but if he did not already know he would be leaving in the summer, his so-called Riverside rant seems to have pretty much confirmed he was aware he’ll be bidding farewell.

But despite the headlines, his comments were no rant.

It seems obvious he has recently had it confirmed he would not be staying on, even if he wanted to. So what does he have to lose?

The Spaniard had reached his breaking point.

He was right to question the continual booing. It looks bad and helps no-one.

And the club’s decision to appoint an interim – and very unpopular – manager seems even more ludicrous now.

His first game, against Manchester City, saw his entrance greeted with the sort of bile and venom normally reserved for a hated rival – which is exactly how he was viewed.

The anger was never going to remain that strong but it simmered underneath the surface all along, waiting for results to dip.

Bye, Rafa. His headline-grabbing, but actually quite carefully considered parting shot, at least signals the end of a horrible, unsavoury few months in Chelsea’s recent history. And he at least deserves some respect for speaking his mind.

How the champions of Europe allowed themselves to get into this mess defies belief.



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