Chelsea FC, in the Rafa Benitez Era
First of all, I would like to start by saying that the term ‘Era’ is being used only to make the title seem a little attractive. Of course, I understand that for a period to become an Era, there has to be a decent amount of time and at the rate at which Roman Abramovich and his team sacks coaches, I’m not pretty sure when are we going to have an ‘Era’ any time sooner.
Now then, let’s get into the topic of discussion. How exactly is Chelsea FC under Rafael Benitez?
Out of the 16 games that Chelsea has played under the Spaniard, the London giants have managed to win only 9 of them, losing 4 and drawing 3. The latest dismissal performance was against Southampton, a newly promoted team. But these stats doesn’t really explain the way Chelsea have performed with the former Liverpool boss incharge.
Before Rafa Benitez was brought in Roberto Di Matteo was doing a pretty good job with the team. The Chelsea legend managed to do the double last season, winning the Champions League and the FA cup. However, Di Matteo is not known for his management skills, he was more of a morale booster. Maybe that was because of his status as a club legend and also owing to his timid yet witty personality. However, on the pitch he usually sent out the best XI to almost each of the games this season. At the start it was understood to be reasonable, however, later it came to be understood that Chelsea got more and more bent on the performance of the trio Mata, Hazard and Oscar. And because of playing almost every game, teams were able to read us and they eventually learnt how to stop our attacks. This started the downfall of Roberto Di Matteo.
Where Rafa Benitez differs from RDM is that he understandably performs a better squad rotation, not just to keep players fresh and fit, but also playing to the weakness of the opponent, or atleast playing to hide our weakness against an opponent. The clear example could be seen with our game against Stoke City, Rafa wanted to do squad rotation, however, he knew that playing Oscar in the midfield would mean that Chelsea would lack a natural width and thus our game would become more and more narrow. Moreover, he would also be concerned with the rough style of game that Stoke City plays, thus not playing a rather technique oriented Oscar. Ryan Bertrand was brought in, with the idea of whipping in more and more crosses. (Yes, I know, this move didn’t work out too well either, but he did figure it right)
But, anyways no one can deny the fact that Chelsea have been playing their best – balanced football in the last 12-14 games (cut out the first two games as he didn’t have much time to study the team well). Earlier, we were entertaining, we were exciting, we were smooth, and had grit (easily seen in the game against Tottenham), however, what we lacked was stability and balance. We used to be so concentrating on scoring that many a times, we were caught out by a quick counter attack. But now, we are looking more of a balanced team, and most of the fans jeering Rafa is just because of the fact that he replaced our beloved Roberto and also that he had used his rather-offensive ‘mind games’ against us in his time at Liverpool. The team has been performing well, leaving out our home performances (which I believe is mainly due to lack of support by the fans itself) Rafa has also brought in Paulo Ferierra and Marko Marin in the shadows of ‘Nowhereness’ and gave them some game time that they deserve (I wish Malouda had also been shown that courtesy though), and ofcourse Lucas Piazon has been loaned out to a team where he can really develop well and return as a better player for the next season.
So my humble request to each of you guys and girls supporting Chelsea FC would be to support Rafa as long as he is representing Chelsea, booing is not an answer, our opponents already do it at many of our players, it would be really annoying to know that own fans are booing the team along with the rivals. We have Arsenal and Swansea as our two back to back game, and these are really important games. Please, Keep Calm, Keep Faith, Trust Chelsea FC.