Rafa Benitez to Chelsea Fans: Mad Rant or Clever PR Strategy

 

It's Not Me. It's Them.

It has to be said that whether you support Chelsea or not, last night’s rant on 5Live made for seriously entertaining listening - a rarity on that program. But as a match with West Brom looms large, Rafa Benitez reached a breaking point. Losses to West Brom became the moment of truth for both Villas-Boas and Di Matteo. So would be a fitting end to Benitez’ reign of apathy. Rafa has been not stranger to a good rant in the past, so it shouldn’t have surprised many that he had another one brewing just under the surface.
 
Before the man himself kicked off last night, there’s been a lot said and written about the treatment of this poor millionaire by the people who pay to see the fruits of his labours. A lot of those seem to think the unrest should not be directed at this man, who again receives a very heft pay cheque, but to the man that hired him. How dare Chelsea supporters not turn on a man who has spent billions of his own money to improve the club and the academy. Ingrates really. The cash influx is not the only reason that Chelsea supporters have not turned on Abramovich. 
 
Supporters would definitely like a decent manager to stay longer than it takes for a spot to clear up, but it’s not the current culture … mostly because of the success the turnover has seen. Each interim manager has been progressively more successful with last year’s model winning both the FA Cup and that big shiny trophy. Those with any sense know that no matter how cringey the decision is (the sackings of Mourinho, Ancelotti and RDM to name but a few), he’s not doing it with a disregard for the club or its supporters – he is trying to do what’s best, even if that best is misguided by the clowns on Chelsea’s board. The appointment of Benitez was arguably one of the worst decisions that has been made. But it wasn’t a move out of spite – it was one to try and get a certain be-freckled striker, well, striking again. And we all know how well that’s worked out for them.
 
 
The raucous booing that gets written about week in and week out was really only done with real vigour in his first few matches. With the poor performances on the pitch, the interim one has managed to lull the crowd into a silent apathy. Which makes his rant even more suspect. This was a man who said he couldn’t here 40,000 people booing him on his debut against City. Even when Geoff Shreeves did us all a solid stopping just short of singing the song to Benitez. So why would a man who could not hear that all of a sudden become unhinged – and after a win at that?
 
 
Although I hold no regard for his tactics on the pitch, I fully appreciate his intelligence as a PR maven. This is a man that needs to find work this summer – if not sooner. This is a man who has realised he will more than likely NOT achieve the objectives that he was set out to do by keeping Chelsea in a Champions League position for next season and maybe if snag himself a trophy. So what better way to do that than deflect the attention from him and his tactics and place it firmly on just about anyone else he could think of. Well played Rafa, well played. 
 
 
So what to make of the in no way contrived ‘rant’:
 
 
“I have a title. Someone decided the title would be “interim”. Why? Just in case? If they want to blame me for everything that is wrong and then they say, “We will put interim just in case”, fine, that is your decision. I don’t agree, but it’s your decision and now everybody has to take responsibility.” 
 
 
Simple enough, you don’t like the title, don’t take the job. No one forced it upon Benitez – job or title. He was reluctant to take the position last season because of the short contract, but running short on funds and using Chelsea as a showcase was less of a problem for him this season. Claims that he was unaware of the term ‘interim’ are completely false as everyone of you knew his title before he was officially named as Di Matteo’s successor. Any form of the word success here being liberally used.
 
 
“It’s just to say to everyone, “Because he was in Liverpool and just in case, we will put interim and then we will wash our hands”.” 
 
 
Can’t say where he is really going with this. As he is not the first interim manager appointed at Chelsea, as he did succeed the last one. (see previous note on success) Feel free to jog by memory, but I don’t remember Di Matteo, Hiddink, or even Grant having anything to do with Liverpool. Yet … were also given the same title. In no way does this smell like napalm in the morning come off as slightly paranoid. 
 
 
“A group of fans, they are not doing any favours for the team when they are signing and wasting time preparing banners. It’s because someone made a mistake. The put my title as “interim manager”, and I will leave at the end of the season, so they don’t need to waste time with me.” 
 
 
The banner making is by and large a waste of time, mainly because Chief Paranoia has had them banned. The reason all those A4 ‘signs’ appeared at the City match were only because they were the only ones that could be snuck in. There was a near riot in a stand when supporters unfurled a large banner and seventeen stewards leapt on them before such outrage could be shown on Sky. Since then, most banners criticising Benitez or calling out for the return of Mourinho are not allowed to be hung in the ground. As for the singing, technically speaking, as the words are ‘we don’t care about Rafa’ and ‘all we care about is Chelsea FC’, that group of fans has backed the team. The sheer glee at him announcing he’d be leaving amongst Chelsea supporters was the happiest they’ve been since beating Spurs at the Lane.
 
 
‘”I have been in charge in football for 26 years. I have won the Champions League, won the FIFA Club World Cup, the FA Cup, the Italian Super Cup, the Spanish league twice, nine trophies, all the trophies you can win at club level.” 
 
 
That is one trophy every three years. The Club World Cup was Mourinho’s team. And the parts about taking a treble winning team to mid-table mediocrity don’t seem to be included in this brag. In that same time, Chelsea have received at least 20 hounours. Winning the old second division is of course included.
 
 
“They have to take responsibility, too. If they put players under pressure, they don’t create a good atmosphere at Stamford Bridge, they have to realise they are making a big mistake because the rest of the fans would like to see the team in the Champions League next year.” 
 
 
Who doesn’t love a good atmosphere at a football match? So, fair point. However, the fans aren’t the ones who are responsible for choosing the lineups. These fans did not mess with the Hazard-Mata-Oscar trident. The fans did not decide that Oscar could sometimes play as DM. The fans do not make 80th minute like for like substitutions. They don’t have completely inflexible tactics which then necessitates these like for like subs. The fans do not take off the one player who seems to be playing with a little gusto that day. And the fans certainly did not keep John Terry on the bench when his experience was so desperately needed to sort out whatever was going on in the back four.
 
 
“I have proved in these three months that I want to win every single game.” 
 
 
Proven of course by now being 19 points out of first after being a mere 4 points out when Benitez took over.
 
 
“The problem is a group of people who think they can say what they want instead of supporting the team.” 
 
 
Although booing never helps anyone, supporters should be able to voice their concerns when results are not forthcoming. Supporters pay heftily week in and week out and should be able to express that. With Benitez being such a top blogger himself, he should know that. As for the group not supporting the team? Two thousand people travelled 500 miles round trip in the middle of the week for a match that was only quickly arranged. Against Middlesborough. 
 
 
And for those die hards out there who refused to believe Benitez is not the manager he purported himself to be, in his first 27 matches, his win percentage 51.85%. Not really good enough for a team trying to ensure a top four finish. But beyond that, is one of the worst records of any of the previous nine managers. The previous interim, now airbrushed off the walls of Stamford Bridge, had three more wins to his start giving him 62.96%. Only one manager had a similar start to their Chelsea career, and did not last the season – Villas-Boas.
 
 
Benitez peppered his rant with claims of an agenda from the fans. But he needn’t look far for the real agenda. This man is fighting for his career – clearly not at Chelsea. This was meant to be his foray back into football. Take a Champions League winning club and make sure they’re still in it next season. Collect big pay cheque. Cover yourself in glory. Seemed simple enough. Benitez is realising sooner than later that it’s not the showpiece he’d hoped for. So before people see through the smoke and mirrors of those rigid tactics and dodgy subs, he re-directs everyone’s attention to the fans. These results were not his fault but the fans’ fault. All that unrest, which of course was not in part due to some questionable displays on the pitch, were all them, not him. He’s still a very good manager. And if you let him stay for three years, he can almost guarantee you a single trophy. As long as no one questions him or voices their disapproval. It’s not him, it’s you.
 
 
 jb
 
 
Chelsea supporters, or just about anyone else do you think Benitez was justified in his comments or is just a smokescreen. He’s become the ringleader at a three ring circus and may just not want you to see what’s behind his tent. Ahem. We want to know your opinion, so leave it below. Remember you can follow Football Rascal on Twitter and Facebook, so get involved!
This entry was posted in Champions League, Club Focus, Competitions, Europa League, Football, Football Chants, Managers, News, Owners, Top Four. Bookmark the permalink.
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  1. ChelseaClem says:

    Never ever rated Rafa, Even whilst he was king of kop. Now I am proven right. I really have no desire for him to continue to tinker my beloved Chelsea. Its obvious to everyone that the guy is pretty useless. Chelsea supporters have a right to express their objections as he has every right to express his own thoughts. (even though they are from cloud cukcoo land.) He must have smoked something if he thought his words would make a difference. We would be better off without him so I would rather he leaves now. I cannot bear the thought of him leading us against Man U. Currently, with Rafa our team looks really weak and sad. We cant defend, cant pass and cant score. So, why leave it till the end of the season? Rafa, if you are going, go now. Do it. Why wait till summer? We are better off without Rafa. I think we can beat Man U without him. I think the guy is a liability. Let JT and Frankie manage the team jointly for that match. As for who we get after Rafa… well (1) Any one is better than Rafa, (2) I don’t even mind if we bring back Grant and Wilkins together. (3) how about Steve Clark ? Come on Chelsea.

    • JB says:

      Interesting shout for player manager until the end of the season. There is a debate on TalkSport right now with Martin Lipton as guest discussing it. How it was very much part of Chelsea’s culture, and if it would work now. It will be interesting how Chelsea proceed this season – whether they stick or twist. Benitez has made claims today he has a good relationship with the owner, but only a few weeks ago he said he hadn’t spoke to him in 3 weeks. He’s a bundle of contradictions.

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