Already reeling from the departure of Robbie Di Matteo, the suits at Chelsea FC inflicted a further blow on the club’s supporters last night with their appointment of the almost universally-despised former Liverpool boss, Rafael Benitez, until the end of the season.
Let’s take a look at some of his pearls of wisdom on CFC whilst he was in charge at Anfield:-
“Drogba is a coward, a diver and a cheat”
“Lampard is overrated”
“Chelsea is a soulless club”
“Liverpool fans do not need plastic flags to support their club. They show true passion. Chelsea fans are passionless”.
‘Chelsea is a big club but I would never take that job in respect for my former team at Liverpool no matter what”
So the Stamford Bridge hierarchy have chosen to replace a loved and admired Chelsea legend with a bloke who’s been out of work for two years, has a dicky ticker and looks like he should be waiting at the local La Tasca. Then, just as you thought things couldn’t actually get any worse, during the course of the day reports suggested, and were confirmed by Benitez at his presser this evening, that the ex-Chelsea midfielder, Boudewijn Zenden, who spent an injury hit spell at the club between 2001 and 2004 during which he largely failed to justify his price tag, was to join Benitez as Assistant Manager. Zenden, who signed for Liverpool in 2005, although again spending much of his time in the treatment room, has been a vocal critic of Chelsea whilst working as a media pundit.
Today’s headlines have dubbed the new manager “Rafa The Gaffer”. Last night Sky and BBC Five Live both referred to “Rafa Benitez’s Chelsea”. I will never call him “Rafa”. Use of a nickname or diminutive implies affection. I will never have anything but contempt for him and if we do confound my personal expectations and win anything this season I’ll do what others did when the much (and unfairly) maligned Avram Grant was the manager and give the players the credit.
The most worrying aspect of this whole business is the suggestion that Benitez has been brought in to spark life into the withered footballing corpse of Fernando Torres. If this is indeed the case, and it’s an attempt to save face instead of recognising that the Spaniard will never live up to the price tag and moving him on, it’s a sinister development. It means that one player is now truly more important than the club. No wonder that a Chelsea insider recently described Torres as “The Precious One”.
Sunday’s game against Manchester City was always going to be crucial. The fans will support the team, but it is extremely unlikely that they will extend this to the new incumbent on the bench. The feeling in the forums and on social media today is that they have no faith or affection for Benitez, and nothing but contempt for the men at the top – Michael Emenalo, Ron Gourlay and Bruce Buck. There will be chants in defence of Di Matteo and against the Spaniard. In addition, a protest in the form of a march from Fulham Broadway to the ground, commencing at 3.30pm, has been mooted on Twitter.
And there is another possibility to throw into an already combustible mixture – that that this week may represent a sea-change in how Roman Abramovich is viewed by fans. Constantly exhorted to ‘Trust Roman’,why should those who hold CPO shares put any faith in a club owned by a man who refused to show any confidence in a manager loved and trusted by the fans, who had delivered the Holy Grail of the Champions League just six months previously?