Chelsea’s turnaround under Benitez

Mohamed Roar Rookie

By Mohamed, Mohamed is a Roar Rookie

 , , ,

6 Have your say

    Related coverage

    The past couple of months at the Chelsea Football Club has been a flurry of news, events and changes. Club legend Robbie Di Matteo has been fired in the midst of a minor slump in results which left the club divided and in turmoil.

    RDM’s only blemish so far had been missing out on the UEFA Super Cup and Community Shield, which were basically glorified pre-season one off games.

    Chelsea had been leading the league up until RDM’s departure and although the club was defeated by Juventus by a score of 3 goals to 0, Champions League progression was still a distinct possibility. So it was a massive shock when RDM was sacked the day after the defeat in Turin.

    Naturally there was a backlash, and boy was it big. Chelsea fans turned on Roman Abramovich, protests about Rafa Benitez began and continued well into the weeks ahead.

    Signs could clearly be seen at Stamford Bridge saying ‘Rafa Out’ and ‘RDM: Chelsea Legend’ during the first game of Rafa’s reign. Talk shows such as ESPN Press Pass and Fox Soccer were giving their presenters leeway to verbally blast Chelsea’s management.

    The Daily Mail at one stage had an article slamming the football club up every few hours.

    But in the midst of all this commotion there were players trying to cope and adapt to the latest managerial transition.

    Immediately after Benitez was appointed, theories were thought up, mainly saying that Fernando Torres’ lack of goals was the reason why Benitez was appointed.

    This in turn put unwarranted criticism on both Torres and Benitez. Rafa was booed by Chelsea fans simply because of the fact that he had once been a manger of a rival team. It is this type of simple minded, childish tribalism by fans that had turned Chelsea into the butt of most football jokes, despite the fact that they were defending champions of Europe.

    For instance Jose Mourinho worked as a translator for Barcelona in his youth, however that did not stop Real Madrid from signing him up years later.

    Rafa’s first game ended in a bland 0-0 stalemate against defending EPL champions Manchester City. This was a solid result considering the club were supposedly in turmoil.

    Goals were still an issue at that time. Then there was another 0-0 draw with Fulham at home, a game Chelsea should have won.

    The criticism continued, even though the Blues had not conceded a goal in 180 minutes without John Terry.

    Then came the 3-1 defeat to West Ham United. That was certainly the time to be upset. The team got overrun in the second half. However the coach should not cop all the blame – the players were the ones that ran out there and conceded the result.

    The calls to sack Rafa were heating up. This is where the fans’ logic got to the stage of borderline mental.

    Could these ‘fans’ tell me when a club has ever sacked another manager weeks after sacking the previous? These people could not grow up and realise no matter how much we loved having RDM as coach, that he would not be rehired by Roman, so it was time to look forward regardless of the consequences.

    Champions League Matchday six arrived, the must win game against FC Nordsjaelland of Denmark was on. Chelsea had to win this game and hope that Shakhtar Donetsk defeated Juventus at home in order to progress to the knockout stages.

    The game began with both sides having scoring chances, and Eden Hazard missing a penalty as well as a Nordsjaelland striker. Chelsea then received another penalty and David Luiz made no mistake, much like that famous night in Munich.

    Once Chelsea had the pre-game jitters out of their system, the rout started and ended with Torres grabbing a brace and an overall scoreline of 6-1.

    If only goal difference was still used, then Chelsea would have been through.

    It turned out that Shakhtar had butchered their game against Juventus which resulted in Juve topping the group and Chelsea falling to third and the Europa League for the first time.

    This time the Rafa haters could say nothing bad: we had won our game in style and the only reason we dropped down was due to circumstances beyond our control.

    Suddenly the light at the end of the tunnel was visible. After a solid 3-1 away win to Sunderland in which Torres grabbed another goal, the FIFA Club World Cup was up next and the first game against Monterrey was a walkthrough, the final against Corinthians was back to the bad old days of missed opportunities which cost Chelsea the chance of being world champions.

    Back to the Capital One Cup after a long flight from Japan and a game away to Leeds beckoned. A sloppy start had us down 1-0 at the break, and then we snapped out of it and played to our potential, scoring five second half goals (which netted me a nice profit).

    The next game was a pre-Christmas home game against Aston Villa at the Bridge, where suddenly everything clicked again. Over the entire 90 minutes Chelsea fired eight goals against Aston Villa with David Luiz playing exceptionally in midfield and hitting a goal that would make Cristiano Ronaldo jealous.

    Finally, pulling the trigger on Luiz in the midfield was a masterstroke by Bentiez and is probably a benefit of having a manager with nothing to lose who can make radical change without fear.

    Torres once again opened the scoring with a sublime header which brought back memories of his Liverpool heyday. Moses, Hazard, Oscar and Ramires rounded the game up to deliver the best scoreline and win of the Premier League this season.

    After a win against Norwich City, Chelsea are nipping at Man City’s heels in the Premier League, within striking distance of the title.

    After the initial resistance, Chelsea fans should be happy with the way Rafa has the team performing, and some of the coaching decisions he has had to make, especially regarding Luiz.

    All in all it has been a wild and bumpy few months for Chelsea. As a fan I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    This video is trending right now! Submit your videos for the chance to win a share of $10,000!

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (6)

    • December 28th 2012 @ 7:05am
      Johnno said | December 28th 2012 @ 7:05am | ! Report

      I have not spoken to anyone who thought sacking RDM was the right move. Incredibly tough task master the Chelsea owner is.

    • December 28th 2012 @ 2:53pm
      nickoldschool said | December 28th 2012 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

      Far too early to assess Benitez work. Chelsea have the players to be in the EPL top three so I guess anything less would be a disappointment.

      Personally, have never been a fan of his and I wouldnt have replaced di Matteo that early. But now that he is here, Abramovich has to stick with him for at least a couple of years to build something. Hazard will only get better and if he is at his best Torres will score.

    • December 28th 2012 @ 9:01pm
      Andrew.Griffits said | December 28th 2012 @ 9:01pm | ! Report

      Benitez has not been booed at the Bridge because he was merely a former Liverpool manager during a period when they were one of the Blues biggest rivals. He was booed because of the numerous degrading comments he directed towards Chelsea in pre and post-match media conferences.

      These comments are obligatory for any manager, but they still sting the hearts of fans who passionately follow their teams. Chelsea fans, like me, have long memories, and the club has a rich tradition. Insults are not easily forgotten.

      Benitez still has much work to do to earn the fans’ respect and, given Abramovich’s record for discarding managers on a whim, he may have less time than most.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 31st 2012 @ 2:40am
      Neuen said | December 31st 2012 @ 2:40am | ! Report

      Benitez’s love structure. He gives wide players strict instructions in terms of positioning with and without the ball. So Mata and Hazard had sole responsibility for protecting their respective full-backs. Benitez’s have a obsession with remaining compact. He always pay attention to the positioning of the wide players, the freedom given to the full-backs, and the positioning of the defensive line. When the opposition has possession, Benítez will instruct his wide players to form a second bank of four. He traditionally favors cautious, functional players on the flanks

    • December 31st 2012 @ 4:09pm
      buddha9 said | December 31st 2012 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

      ok first don’t worry about the media in England – the mail especially hates Chelsea because they are a neo-con paper to whom Putin is number one enemy and Roman A still works with Putin so its politics not football – second there’s not a lot of love for Chelsea in England for a number of reasons, the above being one — as a long time English based Chelsea fan i have to say Di Matteo had to go — his record in the league even last season was terrible and while his tactics in Europe were spot-on once we got kicked out of champs league his time was up — further this is an inexperienced team both as a team and because it includes players new to Chelsea and English football — it needed an experienced manager especially one who could organize the defense — Rdm got sacked from west brom precisely because he couldn’t stop them leaking goals – he’s too inexperienced — Luiz into mid field had been something Chelsea fans have been calling for since he signed basically — still think we’ll win the league and some trophies — Rafa is a hard man to love but easy to respect and the team is certainly going forward — some teams stagnate on stability think arsenal; some thrive on it, think man u and some teams thrive on chaos like Chelsea- only year in last ten we didn’t win anything carlo A was manager all year — stability is just a handy stick the press like to beat us with and they don’t need much encouragement .

    • Roar Rookie

      January 5th 2013 @ 1:11pm
      Mohamed said | January 5th 2013 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

      RDM is long gone forever a legend, time to move on fans, 2013 awaits!

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    , , ,