Benitez interim debacle
Chelsea began the year under the leadership of Rafael Benitez – probably the most unpopular manager in several decades at Stamford Bridge – following the dismissal of fans favourite and former player Roberto Di Matteo who had won the Champions League and FA Cup double with the Blues in 2012.
In the 16th minute of every home game the Blues faithful paid tribute to the sacked Italian boss and the negativity building over Benitez’ reign was more than palpable when the club entitled him ‘interim’ manager suggesting he’d be gone at the end of the season. He was indeed replaced at the end of last term but the fans did seem to warm to him slightly…
Europa League title
…mostly because the Blues won their second European title in succession – after crashing out of the Champions League at the group stages, Chelsea went on to win the Europa League title in May which was something of a consolation as the Spaniard was ushered out of the exit at the Bridge.
There were rumours, there were hopes and there were dreams – the whispers (and loud shouting) emanating from the Spanish capital suggested that Blues legend and the most successful Chelsea manager in history Jose Mourinho was on his way out the Bernabeu and on June 3rd this year the special one returned to his home from home to become the ‘happy one’ back where he belonged at the Bridge. Although its taken something of a transitional adjustment period so far this term, the Blues head into 2014 in third place in the Premier League just two points off the top spot with 19 games left to play.
Undoubtedly the Portuguese coach’s return was the moment that defined the year after a spell of uncertainty and discontent under Rafael Benitez.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald