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Ranting Rafa remains defiant
Defiant - Rafa Benitez
A disappointing 2-0 defeat at Manchester City last weekend meant that the Blues were temporarily overtaken by Tottenham and left Arsenal snapping at their heels in fifth place, just two points adrift. Although they did return to winning ways against West Brom to reclaim third spot, Chelsea are still in a precarious position in their quest for a Champions League place.
If you think about it though, Rafa’s bullish comments do actually have some credence. As he says, whatever happens, at the end of the season he’ll be leaving anyway, so is it really worth the Chelsea boo boys concentrating all their efforts onto making Benitez out banners, giving him stick and chanting for him to be sacked?
The fact is, in previous seasons, Stamford Bridge has been something of a fortress. A place where you would expect nothing less than a Chelsea win every time they took to the field, regardless of which manager was in charge and who the opposition were. But since the appointment of Benitez, the whole atmosphere around the ground seems to have changed.
From one of undying love and support toward the club and their wealthy Russian owner, the overriding substance of emotion coming from the fans has turned significantly. Firstly, it was a feeling of anger, after Champions League winning gaffer Roberto Di Matteo’s untimely dismissal. This then quickly changed to one of disgust, as the former Liverpool boss, famously hated around Stamford Bridge, was brought in to take his place.
Ever since then things have been very different around the ground. Who could forget when Benitez first stepped out and was roundly booed by the majority of Chelsea fans, before they’d even seen a second of play under their new interim boss? If ever a manager was doomed before he’d even begun his work, it was here.
The hostile reception toward the Spaniard has continued throughout the season. The “Benitez out” banners have remained a fixture. The discontent has been very apparent and, such is their hatred toward Benitez, at times, there’s almost been the notion that their own fans want the team to fail, just so they can be rid of him. They know all it takes is a bad run of results and Abramovich won’t hesitate to pull the trigger, as he has done so many times before.
But if you look at the bigger picture, any sort of scenario where a club’s home supporters are almost hoping, for any kind of reason, that they don’t win, and you have a real problem. It’s a big difference if you compare that to how things were under Di Matteo, where the fans, the players and everyone connected to the club were pulling together, united toward a common goal, which was to see Chelsea succeed.
Everything at the club now seems disjointed. There is no togetherness and no unity and Chelsea fans seem to have become increasingly disillusioned as time has gone on during Rafa’s reign. For an opposing team visiting Stamford Bridge, this kind of atmosphere would massively play into their hands. It must also affect the performance of the Chelsea players that take to the field, knowing that there is so much unrest among the crowd.
What Benitez was essentially doing was appealing to the fans to get behind the team, not simply to get them off his back, but so they can help to make Stamford Bridge a difficult place to come again, thereby improving their chances of a top four finish.
For a club of Chelsea’s stature, with the money they have spent, not to even qualify for the Champions League would be unthinkable. But if things do not change, that is a potential danger and Rafa realises this. Therefore, he is trying to galvanise the team, and changing the attitude of the supporters would definitely be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately for Benitez, such is the animosity toward him, he has found it necessary to assure the fans he will not be there next season in an attempt to do this.
By prolifik on March 3rd, 2013 in Blow the whistle
Ranting Rafa remains defiant