Back in November, there was uproar amongst fans as a new manager was appointed, namely Rafa Benitez, who had said back in 2007 that he ‘would never take the Chelsea job, in respect for his former team Liverpool, no matter what.’
Those words came back to haunt him when he took over on an interim basis from Roberto Di Matteo. Missing out on the Champions League knock out stages followed and it all seemed to be going terribly for the Spaniard. However, he has delivered the Europa League trophy, secured 3rd place in the league and reached two cup semi-finals.
The more cynical Chelsea fans may say that another manager would have done a better job but others might say that his tenure has been a success.
The cup competitions they have been involved in have definitely had an effect on their league form throughout the year with Benitez implementing his famed rotation policy. When he took over from Di Matteo they were just four points off the top of the league and still in with a chance of winning the title. It has been hard for the Spaniard to keep the fans happy and he has definitely made the best out of a bad situation. This season has done no harm to his CV, winning a European trophy has to be seen as a success.
Next year, Benitez will most definitely have left the club as the relationship between himself and the fans has never looked like being repaired all year. Chelsea will need to make the league their priority next season because in the last two seasons, they have never really looked like challenging the two Manchester clubs for England’s biggest prize. Of course winning cups is always fantastic for any club but to show consistency over a season surely makes winning the league more satisfying.
With Jose Mourinho being touted to take over at Chelsea with a point to prove after his quite dreadful season at Real Madrid, there is definitely a wave of optimism around Stamford Bridge. The squad they have is more than capable of challenging the Manchester teams if they make the league a priority which Mourinho would definitely do. Chelsea always make big signings in the summer window and this season will be no different.
Benitez can look back on his year at Chelsea and see it as a successful one, mainly because of their cup performances. His rotation policy paid off on Wednesday night as Chelsea claimed their second European trophy in two years. Even if the fans see this year as a success, it is best for both parties that Rafa leaves but they shouldn’t jump to conclusions regarding the team’s performance.