Rafael Benitez: Feeling the heat
Rafael Benitez has been a man under pressure ever since he took up the Chelsea job. His appointment has not gone down well with the fans and results haven’t really helped. While Chelsea did win 3 matches in a row prior to the Club World Cup final, they were against teams that were either mediocre or average at best. The loss to Corinthians means that Benitez is under even more pressure to turn Chelsea’s floundering season around, a season which is now on the verge of disaster. However, all is not yet lost. Chelsea’s season can still be salvaged if the right steps are taken.
Here are 5 steps that Rafael Benitez must take in order to ensure that Chelsea’s season doesn’t end in total disaster :-
1) Buy a new striker in January– Chelsea’s striker problems have been well-highlighted throughout the season. Fernando Torres’ form has ranged from indifferent to poor while Daniel Sturridge has been out injured longer than he’s been fit. It was a silly move to start the season with only 2 recognised strikers in the squad and the move seems to have backfired on Chelsea. A new striker is a necessary addition to the squad. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big-name signing like Radamel Falcao or a cheap-but-clinical striker like Wilfried Bony, clearly more options are needed upfront.
2) Play strongest XI in crunch matches– It’s fair to say that the starting XI Benitez fielded for the Club World Cup final against Corinthians wasn’t Chelsea’s strongest XI. Playing an imbalanced pivot of Lampard and Ramires, starting Victor Moses instead of Oscar…. Benitez didn’t admit it, but his team selection against Corinthians wasn’t what it should have been. It didn’t take Roberto Di Matteo too long to figure out whom Chelsea’s strongest XI consists of and Benitez must stick to those players and not uselessly tinker around with the starting XI. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
3) Rotate the squad whenever necessary– Continuing along the lines of my previous point, while ensuring that he plays his strongest XI in big matches, Benitez must also rotate his squad whenever necessary. Every team Chelsea face won’t be of the caliber of United or City and Benitez must ensure that players like Marin, Moses and even Piazon get starts which in turn will mean that key players are rested. Benitez has a habit of regularly rotating players, which isn’t always smart. Sticking to your strongest XI for important matches is a must, but so is proper squad rotation.
4) Sort things out at the back– 2 clean sheets in 2 matches… it appeared as if Benitez had brought back some defensive stability to a Chelsea side who were regularly leaking goals. However, the Blues have conceded in their last 4 matches, proving that defensive stability is yet to be achieved. Chelsea’s defenders are not lacking in ability, rather in organisation and consistency. A proper balance between defence and attack is a must, and while the attack has looked good, the same cannot be said about the defence. The sooner Benitez plugs the defensive leaks, the better.
5) Win over the players– Last, but definitely not the least. It seems harsh, but Benitez will never be able to win over the Chelsea fans. However, he must ensure that he doesn’t alienate key players and end up losing their support. The last Chelsea manager who did that ended up losing his job. Nothing is confirmed yet, but it seems as if all is not well in the Chelsea dressing room. Benitez must ensure that he works closely with the senior players in particular in order to avoid another AVB-like situation. If that happens, the results will be bad for Benitez but disastrous for Chelsea.