Forget Benitez…. The Players Need To Wake Up

Ever since Rafael Benitez was appointed interim manager of Chelsea, he has been on the receiving end of a lot of hate. Whether on social networking sites, fan forums or at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea fans have made it clear that his appointment hasn’t gone down well with them. The reasons are well-known, so I’ll not bother mentioning them. The fact that results have been poor under him so far (2 draws and a loss in 3 matches in charge) has put him under even more pressure, with the former Liverpool boss going as far as to admit that he is unsure of whether he will last the season. But is he squarely to blame for recent results? Of course he isn’t.

The Benitez Hate Fest, as I’d like to call it, has made us unintentionally ignore the fact that the players haven’t been good enough. At the end of the day, it isn’t Benitez who runs out on to the field to face the opposition. But due to the fact that fans are still seething from anger over the sacking of Di Matteo and the subsequent appointment of Benitez, no one has really noticed the fact that almost all our players have been performing badly.

The defence has been in shambles for a while now. People are quick to pin the blame on David Luiz (the Brazilian’s erratic performances make him an easy scapegoat), but the truth is that none of our defenders have been performing to the best of their abilities, besides maybe Cesar ‘Dave’ Azpilicueta. The Spanish right-back has looked solid in all his appearances for Chelsea and may soon make the right-back position his own. But as a whole, our defence has looked average.

Our attack hasn’t looked much better. Players like Hazard, Oscar and Mata just don’t look like the same players who were terrorizing Premier League defences in the beginning of the season. Torres has looked out of sorts for a while now, and I’m beginning to question his commitment to the club. Ramires hasn’t looked as dangerous as he did earlier in the season. The attacking style that we were lauded for a couple of months back has almost died out. Simply put, nothing seems to be happening.

One argument I’ve seen is that the players are suffering from burnout. While that is true to a certain extent, I wouldn’t blame our bad fortunes on burnout entirely. We’re not even half-way through the season yet, and if the players are already feeling the heat, we can forget winning anything at all this season. Another theory is that the players are disillusioned with all the off-field drama. Again, I understand that argument. Robbie had the respect of all the players in the dressing room. He was a much-loved man at Stamford Bridge and his sacking hurt us all. No doubt the players will take a little time to get used to the fact that Benitez is now in charge. This feeling of disillusionment seems to have come into their game, hence affecting the results. But even this is an excuse.

Granted, the club is in a bad position at the moment. But that’s absolutely no excuse for the way we have been performing lately. The performance against Fulham (a match we should have won easily) was nothing short of depressing and the players didn’t turn up at all for the 2nd half against West Ham. While we did employ a few questionably negative tactics against Fulham, our tactics against West Ham was nothing short of attacking. Benitez cannot be entirely blamed (much as some would like to make him an easy scapegoat) for the fact that the players aren’t performing well. A lot of it is down to the players themselves. And it is now time for all of them to step up and accept the fact that recent performances just haven’t been up to scratch and vow to improve upon them in order to ensure that Chelsea get back to winning ways and in turn, salvage our season. Otherwise, this winter slump may very well turn into a winter collapse.

Shayne Dias

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