Chelsea ‘interim’ manager Rafael Benitez has not been a popular appointment for the Blues since his arrival, replacing fans’ favourite, Chelsea legend and Champions League winning manager Roberto Di Matteo.
Benitez was not welcome at Stamford Bridge from the offset due to some comments he allegedly made about the Blues during his 6-year reign as Liverpool manager.
Chelsea fans continue to applaud in homage to Di Matteo in the 16th minute of every game at Stamford Bridge in reference to the Italian’s former squad number as a player.
Benitez has been under intense pressure since his arrival back in November and the results haven’t gone his way. Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat away against Southampton on Saturday at St Mary’s is the latest in a long line of upsetting results, which haven’t endeared him to the fans remotely.
Benitez was a huge success for the most part during his time at Anfield – he won the Champions League back in 2004/05, the UEFA Super Cup the same years, followed by the FA Cup and FA Community Shield in 2006.
Whilst his tenure was cut short as the Merseyside club looked to usher in a new era, Benitez was very well regarded and indeed respected at Liverpool – far more than ever has and ever will be at Chelsea.
His ‘tremendous’ support of and work with The Hillsborough Families Support Group, amongst other community projects on Merseyside earned him popularity amongst the fans and the people of the city.
His tearful acknowledgement of that work and the gratitude of those families was apparent at the 22nd memorial held at Anfield.
The respect is mutual – it clearly meant a lot to him to represent the club and its ethos for those 6 years and by the applause he received that day at Anfield is a testament to how much it meant to the fans and everyone associated with Liverpool FC.
Chelsea under Roman Abramovich is effectively a revolving door of managers – they’ve had 10 in ten years to be precise – there is no real value of personnel amongst hierarchy there.
Meanwhile Brendan Rodgers hasn’t exactly set the world on fire this season – it’s not been easy for him and no one could argue that he’s tried his best but I wonder whether, when Benitez departs from West London this summer, he could return to his former home?
I think it is clear to all parties that he is a very talented and diligent manager – Chelsea just isn’t where he belongs, quite obviously. Where he belongs is on the touchline at Anfield.
Whether he is re-appointed or, more likely not, Rafael Benitez will remain a legend on the Kop and he’ll be welcomed with open arms and a heroes welcome any time he decides to return, in any capacity.
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