Quit Your Moaning Chelsea Fans: Benitez Is A Genius


That's right Chelsea fans: take a reality check, and stop your moaning.

Why? Because given the circumstances that have transpired this week, you're lucky to have a manager at all. Let alone the great Rafael Benitez.

I've lost count of the amount of times I've seen and heard Blues fans berating their new manager in the last couple of days. It's as if the justified outcry that greeted Abramovich's insane decision to sack Di Matteo has now been extended to his rather more logical decision to appoint one of the finest managers of the 21st Century.

Moreover, for some reason unbeknown to me, apparently it's all Rafa's fault. In the same way that John Terry takes credit for everything that's good, it seems Benitez is already the culprit for all that's bad at Stamford Bridge.

He's certainly the recipient of the vitriol I've been reading and hearing. Way to welcome a legend to your club, fellas. 

Now for that reality check... 

Considering the knee-jerk antics of your dictator, most self-respecting managers with any pedigree wouldn't touch the Chelsea job with a barge pole right now. With Abramovich's track record, you'd be lucky to attract Mike Bassett to the dugout, let alone a seasoned manager who has won La Liga and the Champions League.

Sure, Rafa used to manage Liverpool. So what? You're meant to hate Tottenham more than Liverpool and you accepted Glenn Hoddle with open arms.

Then there's the idea that Benitez is somehow anti-Chelsea; that he showed disrespect by bad-mouthing the club while he was Liverpool boss, and then had the audacity to knock them out of the Champions League a few times. How dare he, eh?

Let's deal in facts, just as Rafa would like it. He did, while in the heat of battle, question Chelsea's ideology. But then who hasn't done that in the last few years? Or indeed in the last few days.

Benitez is a student of the game, with a level of knowledge and an instinct for formations, tactics and situational decisions that has proven, time and again, to be nothing short of exceptional.

No manager works harder than Rafa. He gets to work before anyone else. He meticulously plans training sessions each morning, leads every session himself, and then while the players head for Harvey Nichols and Nandos of an afternoon, he sits concentrated in front of his office screen, immersing himself in videos of forthcoming opposition, producing in-depth analysis and giving every ounce of his very being to his profession. All in the name of success; all in the effort of pleasing his football club's fans.

As such, Benitez will be acutely aware of Chelsea's biggest recurring problems, on the pitch at least. The main one being their over-reliance on John Terry.

The skipper's current injury may only last for weeks - rather than months as was first feared - but there's no escaping the fact that he is currently guzzling the last of his summer wine. He needs to be phased out in the same way as Lampard is; and sooner rather than later.

Benitez is ideally situated to help cushion the blow of JT's absence and to start building a next generation team that functions adeptly without him. Not by replacing Terry, or deploying a formation that exploits him, or knocking his already wonky nose out of joint, but by schooling the other defenders in his defensive methods. 

See, for Benitez, more than for any other manager in the Premier League, defending is an art form based on choreography, instinct and concentration. Without knowing it, John Terry is a disciple of these very principles, only he's never possessed the awareness nor the inclination to put his talent into context.

In midfield, Chelsea have an exciting cast of ball-playing ballet dancers, and consequently a serious issue with the protection provided to the back four. As such, they look very pretty away at Wigan, but are found wanting away at Juventus. Benitez will not only paper over cracks, but plaster a new wall - one of determinatioon, guile and discipline. 

Then there's that £50million waste of space they currently have lumbering around up top. The one who used to be world class when he played for his previous club. You know, the one who calls Benitez a father figure.

See, when you break it down, it turns out that the dictator may have made an inexplicable decision on Wednesday, but he actually followed it up with an inspired one on Thursday. As such, he's somehow managed to appoint the ideal man for the Stamford Bridge dugout.

So don't cut your noses off to spite your faces, Chelsea fans. Take a reality check, stop your moaning, and give Rafael Benitez a chance.


Read more articles by Ben Cove HERE.