Rafael Benitez may well have had a parting stab at Chelsea by leaving out John Terry and Frank Lampard yesterday.
Two of Chelsea’s most experienced players had to sit on the bench for the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City as Rafa Benitez either stayed stubborn with his methods or had a little dig at the club just one month before he leaves.
It’s more likely to have been the former but any football fan watching the match yesterday couldn’t help but notice how small and light the Chelsea side looked without either of them in the side.
The decision to leave out Terry was understandable considering the greater pace of David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic in the middle of the defence, which saved Chelsea on more than one occasion over the cup tie.
The exclusion of Lampard was more remarkable, especially when it became evident that the City midfield was in control of the game, using Carlos Tevez to drop off from the front and provide an extra body which over ran Chelsea at times.
It could be a parting message from Rafa who has also made no attempt to get Chelsea to reconsider their position in relation to Lampard, who is reportedly on the verge of a £6 million two-year deal to go and play in the United States.
However, he’s always been one of Chelsea’s most important players which makes it all the more remarkable that he wasn’t used yesterday, especially late on when his quality on the ball would have been invaluable to the side.
Rafa seems to have always been at odds with Chelsea ever since he took the role as interim manager and ever since it became clear that his tenure would be made as difficult as possible.
While there is unlikely to have been any personal intent or malice in his decision to leave out Terry and Lampard yesterday, his reluctance to introduce either to the game when Chelsea needed it was remarkable.
It’s more likely that he was trying to make a point through his own managerial style and beliefs that he could get Chelsea back into the game and over the line in a certain way, which he has always stuck by.
With under two months of his job left to go with Chelsea, he was never going to try something radical or new which means that the club now unfortunately just has one piece of silverware left to fight for in the form of the Europa League.
He certainly won’t feel pressured into make any decisions over the rest of the season because he has no invested interest in the team. Even if that means leaving Lampard out of a Europa League final which could be the last possible chance he ever has to play for the Blues.
It’s a shame because Lampard could have really made the difference yesterday as he’s used to the big occasion and would have been itching to get off the bench. However, it just seems like something else which will be thrown on the pile of reasons to thank God that Benitez is leaving by the end of May.
What did you make of Terry and Lampard’s exclusions?
image: © Live4Soccer