Rafael Benitez is not the man for Chelsea

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The boos began the moment his appointment was announced.

The name of Rafael Benitez's predecessor was sung from the first minute of his Chelsea reign, and continued as his side were beaten by Swansea in the Capital One Cup first leg semi-final.

Even the club undermined him with the job title of ‘Interim First-Team Manager’. With Pep Guardiola the real apple of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s eye, Benitez simply cannot win.

With that in mind, home defeats to Michael Laudrup’s Swansea and Harry Redknapp's QPR has done little to enhance Benitez's reputation amongst Chelsea's fans. God knows what the reaction would be should Southampton inflict a third straight home defeat on Benitez in tonight's Premier League encounter.

If the Spanish tactician was in with a chance of becoming a permanent Chelsea manager rather than just a temporary one, success in the League Cup was never going to seal the deal. As Kenny Dalglish found out last season, domestic cup success does not impress like it used to, and with the memory of Champions League glory still fresh in their minds, Chelsea's fans would not be satisfied.

Benitez’s only chance of convincing the doubters that he is the man for the Blues would have been to win the Premier League title, something that is frankly out of this team’s reach and was from the moment he took (temporary) charge.

So why did Benitez take the job? You could argue he had nothing to lose, he was on a hiding to nothing, but the ex-Liverpool boss did need to restore his reputation after a fairly disastrous spell at Inter Milan. If he wanted to get back into management, either back in England where he still enjoyed some goodwill or with his beloved Real Madrid, he needed to get back in the football community’s consciousness. In that regard, Chelsea was his best option.

I’ve no doubt Benitez had the confidence that he could turn around the club's fortunes and secure a longer contract at the end of the season, assuming Abramovich’s flirtations with Guardiola failed, but more importantly Benitez showed he is a company man.

Whenever the thorny issue of Frank Lampard and his contract is brought up, Benitez nimbly dodges the bullet without questioning his superiors. When Fernando Torres and his poor goal-scoring record is mentioned, Benitez defends the favoured son of his boss. There is a line, and Benitez toes it majestically.

This could help set-up his next career move. With the discontent on the Chelsea terraces making any decision to turn the Spaniard’s temporary status to permanent courageous and divisive, Benitez could be set to replace Jose Mourinho at Madrid.

The ‘Special One’ has fallen out with the Los Merengues hierarchy, the press, and senior players like Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos. Support from President Florentino Perez is just about keeping Mourinho in his job, but a parting of ways in the summer seems inevitable. Benitez would be a far calmer replacement, less antagonistic than Mourinho and less self-centred.

Benitez will never get the Stamford Bridge support behind him, no matter what the side achieve. If they win it is down to the players, in spite of the manager. If they lose, it is all the manager’s fault. However, the way Benitez handles himself will earn some sympathy and restore part of his reputation in time for a big job in the summer.

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