Rafael Benitez was one of Roman Abramovich’s most controversial managerial appointments.
The Spaniard was detested by majority of the Chelsea fans and even though he did make the Blues’ 2012-13 season as successful as it could be, when he departed Stamford Bridge last summer, there were no tears shed.
During his time with Chelsea between November 2012 and May 2013, Benitez secured a top-four place in the Premier League and also led them to Europa League success. Not only that, but the London outfit actually finished third, just three points behind second-placed Manchester City and two clear of Arsenal, who ended up fourth.
However, the 54-year-old was jeered at every given opportunity by the Chelsea fans, who were against the appointment of the Spaniard because of his previous ties with Liverpool. During his tenure as the Reds manager between 2004 and 2010, the current Napoli coach had hit out at Chelsea and their manager Jose Mourinho, and the fans remember it.
However, former Leicester City and Derby County midfielder Robbie Savage has now taken what appears to be a sly dig at the Chelsea fans for making a fuss of Benitez’s appointment, while his successor Jose Mourinho is staring at a barren 2013-14 campaign.
Having been knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday, Chelsea can win only the Premier League title this season. But that depends on Liverpool and City dropping points - the championship is out of the Blues’ hands. Moreover, Mourinho has deployed negative and defensive tactics, something Benitez has often been accused of doing throughout his managerial career. Yet, the fans have sung Mourinho’s praises and hold him close to their hearts.
Savage has now underlined the difference in the Chelsea fans’ attitude towards the Spaniard and the Portuguese.
‘Mourinho will be forgiven a season of empty-handedness by his adoring flock at the Bridge, and that is their prerogative’, the Welshman wrote in The Mirror.
‘How strange that Rafa Benitez won the Europa League in his six months as interim boss last year, even though so many fans were hostile to him’.