Rafa Benitez is confident that he can win Chelsea fans over with wins, all he has to do is find the winning combination of the players he has at his disposal. His first attempt against Manchester City ended in a draw, and will certainly have taught him about those in his squad.
One of the things he appears to have learned, according to reports emerging over the past 24 hours, is that he doesn't rate Jon Obi Mikel, and is ready to drop the Nigerian for the match with Fulham tonight.
One of the options to replace him, is Spaniard Oriol Romeu, who has made just two league starts so far this season. Those came in games Chelsea did not win, away to Swansea and West Brom, as Di Matteo sought to give him a chance. In addition he has made two appearances from the bench.
He also started against Manchester United in the Capital One Cup, and his dallying in possession at the back was a schoolboy mistake which gave away the opening goal, so it hasn't been a standout season so far for the 21-year-old, now under the guidance of his third Chelsea manager.
There is every chance that Benitez may be the best manager for him yet. At Liverpool, Rafa quickly set about giving the Reds' team a touch of Spanish class, signing Xabi Alonso. He preceded to sign seven Spaniards in his first two seasons at the club, and he will be expected to look towards La Liga in January.
At Chelsea he has Juan Mata and Cesar Azpilicueta available, but Romeu will be his biggest challenge, and perhaps his biggest statement of intent. Intriguingly Romeu was linked with a switch to Benitez' former club Valencia last week, but his prospects could be looking up now.
Romeu is only 21, and is only going to improve. One remarkable statistic of the season so far, is that of all the Chelsea players, this season in the Premier League - Romeu has the highest pass completion percentage - 91.7 per cent.
He came on for the final 12 minutes against Manchester City, displaying that he is on the edge of Benitez's plans at the very least. Rafa is a man with a plan, he has a certain way of playing, and Blues players have already commented on the way he seeks to set up the midfield in a more defensive manner to protect the defence, which may suit Romeu's natural game.
If he gets his chance tonight, Romeu needs to take it and start showing the potential which made him stand out as an exciting prospect early last season.
Can Romeu have an impact under Benitez and become a regular?
image: © WSHJackson
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