Let me make it clear from the start, I am not a fan of Rafa Benitez, not even close. But the day he chose to step in as the manager of Chelsea FC, I had decided that I am not going to get my hatred for the man get in the way of me wishing well for Chelsea. Rafa knew well where exactly was he stepping into, and what kind of trouble he invited upon himself. And till date I have no idea what went through his head when he made the decision. Chelsea FC could be excused as they needed an ‘interim’ manager for the rest of the season, and this man, who had abused Didier Drogba, Chelsea FC and also its fan jumped in! The decision didn’t prove much of a bonus either, considering we lost our stand in many of the competitions that we were expected to win.
Well that’s that! Like almost every other Chelsea fan, I could go on for hours on what a horrendous mistake it was to hire a man of Rafael Benitez’s history. But that is certainly not the intention of this article. I, for once tried to think in favor of Rafa, and here it goes.
Every match, there are just two outcomes waiting for Rafa, and the truth being he is helpless on most occasions. If it is a win, then the man is spared for the moment, atleast for a few days till the next game comes. But, god forbid, a draw or a loss means that the entire next week abuses were going to the hurled at him. This is an observation while managing and administering our Facebook page. People are so much hot headed over him that they forget every other underperformer in the team, except ofcourse Fernando Torres.
The latest match against Southampton was no different. He fielded a team with no Juan Mata or Eden Hazard. Juan was said to have gone down because of fever, while Hazard was rested after the lad just came back after two solid outings for Belgium over the international break. When I looked at the team, I felt it was pretty good, Victor Moses, Oscar, Lampsy and John Terry all started. However, in the game it all went wrong. Moses was selfish on more than one occasions, and Oscar, Lampard were missing from any positive move expected off them, while John Terry was underperforming, not the usual self. Including Marin into the starting line up was justified, afterall if Chelsea can’t give him a starting spot against a team like Southampton, whom exactly can he afford to start against? (No disrespect to the Saints, but they are no Everton or Newcastle or Spurs who need to be taken more care of other than the big guns) The only idiotic moment from the game for me was the decision to bring in Benayoun for Oscar, when we were in dire need of a goal. It could had been Ba, Torres was drifting the wide areas any ways, but no, Yossi was brought in. That is all the criticism Rafa Benitez deserves for, the players deserves the rest of the blame.
That doesn’t leave out Lampard either, I love him to the core, like every other Chelsea fan, but when we hear Lampard saying that he wants to start every game, the manager is automatically given an indirect order by the club to play him atleast in 2 out of 3 games. That wouldn’t had been a menace either if Frank was performing like he used to. Yes he has scored a decent number of goals this season too, like the entire past decade, however, there is no other contribution from him since recent weeks. Yet, we find it hard to blame Frankie for any bad performance, and guess what, our love for the player actually justifies our behavior!
Leaving out Hazard was a wise decision. I wouldn’t deny that top 4 is the priority over any game, however, the match against Man United is more than a clash for a cup, it a battle. No Chelsea manager is expected to take a Man United game lightly, we could experiment against Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs or others, but against Man United, victory is all that we are expected to be fighting for. Such is the history between the two teams. It is a matter of pride. And after us being robbed in daylight earlier this season, losing another game against them is the last thing we want. Over that, playing a tired Hazard against the Manchester club would mean hazardous. We needed our big guns loaded and well maintained, and currently Mata and Hazard are the biggest weapons in our Arsenal.
One thing Rafa deserves the blame for over all is not recruiting new players when he already knew the squad was thin. He wasted the entire January, loaning out Lucas Piazon, and selling Sturridge while bringing in only Demba Ba. Atleast two utility players should had been signed so that squad rotation could be done more efficiently.
Rafa Benitez knew exactly that the Chelsea fans weren’t going to forget the past, yet he thought to give it a try to win us over with time, only to fail on more than one occasions. However we have to know that when the team wins, it is the team which performs well, so when the team loses, it cannot be only the manager who lost us the game, the entire team deserves to be blamed! So in short, cut the slack and get behind the team. Win, Lose or Draw, Chelsea FC will always be loved by us unconditionally!