Does Rafa Benitez have any incentive to get Chelsea into the Champions League?

The beleaguered Chelsea manager has impressed in the cups over the past few weeks, but rotation has seen his team in danger of missing out on a top four place in the league.

When Rafa Benitez unleashed his rant on the Chelsea fans and management hierarchy he made it very clear that he was not going to be at Stamford Bridge next season, a fact that will have cheered the great majority of Blues fans.

Since then Benitez has done well to guide his team to the quarter-finals of the Europa League and the semi-finals of the FA Cup, but their league form has been mixed perhaps because of the focus on these trophies, and it seems clear that for Benitez, winning a trophy would be a far better end to his tenure at Chelsea than getting a top four place.

This should not be unexpected, as if a manager has no stake in the future of the club he surely will just want to collect a couple of trophies to add to his own CV. No one would say he did a bad job if he won the double and finished fifth, but Chelsea fans might argue that they would rather feature in next season's Champions League than win the Europa League this time around.

Chelsea only played six league games throughout February and March, and lost three of those - the away trips to Newcastle United, Manchester City and Southampton. They beat Wigan, West Brom and West Ham at home, but their fixtures in the remainder of the season will likely not be as straightforward as those three matches.

Over the next few weeks they will play Rubin Kazan home and away in the Europa League, and have a FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City. They could then also play two legs of a Europa League semi-final. If Benitez rotates his side to protect them for the cups that could see several Premier League matches where Chelsea send out an understrength team, and so far they have not been able to do the job consistently without their best players on the pitch.

Chelsea fans might well agree with Benitez that winning trophies is better than being in next year's Champions League, but if they do not, then they are stuck with a manager who is leaving in the summer, and so has little incentive to see his side claim a to four place.

image: © thesportreview

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