One thing is for sure - tactically speaking Rafa Benitez is one of the most gifted managers in the game.
However, despite recent on the field success, Benitez has struggled to win the hearts of the fans and in all honesty he probably never will.
Here are three reasons for this:
Using Andre Villas-Boas as an example, his failure at Chelsea arose due to the dominant characters within the changing room having a lack of enthusiasm for his ‘project’ at Chelsea.
Inheriting a squad rather than building one puts a manager at an immediate disadvantage, as before he can designate players their roles within the squad he must first earn their respect.
Therefore Benitez, coming in as just interim manager, has struggled to stamp his authority on the players.
Roberto Di Matteo didn’t have this problem, as he was already a Chelsea great and coach prior to his appointment to the top job, and he was willing to submit to the greater powers that be within the changing room.
Benitez's rotation policy
Benitez’s rotation policy has been ineffective in a squad lacking in depth. With so many top class players on loan Chelsea’s problem has been strength in depth this season.
The trio of Mata, Hazard and Oscar has been devastating for premier league defences this season, but with their plight in form results a dip in form for the entire squad.
This problem has been exacerbated by the ludicrous amount of games that Chelsea has had to play this season with distractions in the form of The Club World Cup and the European Super Cup successfully exhausting Chelsea’s most prominent players.
Moses has had glimmers of brilliance this season prior to his departure for the African Cup of nations but Marin has conclusively been a misfire in the transfer market, all this is compounded by what seems to be Benitez’s personal vendetta against Chelsea legends Frank Lampard and John Terry, as he continues to leave them out.
Chelsea - Liverpool rivalry
Benitez’s time at Liverpool was undoubtedly when the Chelsea – Liverpool rivalry was at its most fierce. Controversial decisions in Champions league, and FA cup meetings intensified tensions between Chelsea’s treasured ‘Special one’ and Benitez making Benitez one of the most unpopular characters at Stamford Bridge.
This has not been forgotten by fans, and to make matters worse Benitez has openly criticised these same fans. This unhealthy relationship between fans and manager has soured the atmosphere at the Bridge and contributed to changing room hostilities that have translated into poor and cagey Chelsea performances at times.
However, the season cannot yet be deemed a failure. If Chelsea finish third, win the Europa League and defend their FA cup title then Benitez will leave Stamford Bridge a success - even if the fans don't think so.
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