Rafael Benitez succeeded in his aim of securing Champions League qualification for Chelsea and even won a trophy along the way, but achieved only begrudging support from the Blues' fans.

The question remains, however: why was the man who, just six months ago, was west London's public enemy number nor, never given the gratitude that, by all means, he probably deserved?

Let's take a closer look.

1) Rafa's opportunism

It has often been claimed that Benitez's stop at Stamford Bridge only came about as the Spaniard sought to build on his already impressive CV to gain the post of manager at another club.

Though Chelsea has seen a stunning nine managers since Jose Mourinho's appointment in 2004, the fans evidently did not enjoy being the subject of what was essentially a stopover for a manager seeking ever greener pastures since the departure from his beloved Liverpool.

2) Di Matteo the Martyr

Roberto Di Matteo was fired in the wake of Chelsea's disappointing form in the Champion's League, losing to both Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus as defending champions, and all but ensuring a record early exit from the competition. The decision created fury and disbelief amongst fans and pundits alike, as the man who had taken over after the turbulent Andre Villas-Boas reign only to win the FA Cup and make Roman Abramovich's dream of winning the Champion's League come true, was sacked after just eight months on the job.

Rafa's appointment was seen as a disappointment and within the first few games Chelsea fans had started to applaud their fallen hero on the 16th minute, ensuring Rafa's entry to the club was a baptism of fire.

3) Other managerial prospects

After Di Matteo's sacking, Chelsea fans were confused and upset but maintained a level of optimism, ensuring the entry of a premier manager to the defending champions of Europe would not be difficult.

Rumours of Pep Guardiola coming to the club that orchestrated his Barcelona's downfall in the semi-final of the Champions League flew around London. The return of Jose Mourinho or Guus Hiddink were also touted along with talk of Harry Redknapp.

Rafa, though a manger who had achieved great success with Liverpool and Valencia, had endured a torrid time with Inter Milan. Chelsea fans were disappointed with the appointment of a manager at such odds with their expectations.

4) Rafa's tenure at Liverpool

Rafa enjoyed his most lengthy and perhaps most enjoyable spell from 2004-2010 at Liverpool. Over this time, Chelsea grew to become a competing force in English and European football, much to the chagrin of the man at the helm of the team that had enjoyed near total hegemony over England for many of the previous decades.

Chelsea being a newcomer to the gauntlet of the Premier League as well as the growing rivalry between the two clubs prompted Benitez to comment that '...there is only one club in England, and that's Liverpool.', as well as a host of other barbed comments towards the west London club, their fans and Jose Mourinho. This clearly did not serve to endear Rafa to Chelsea.

5) Fernando Torres

The logic behind Benitez's appointment was clear to see. Chelsea's £50m misfiring striker, Fernando Torres, needed to improve in order for him to justify his lofty price tag.

Though Torres was Chelsea's 2012/13 top scorer and netted important goals such as the opener in Chelsea's 2-1 victory over Benfica in the Europa League final, Torres often remained sloppy and wasteful up front, doing little to justify the faith given to him by the management.

Benitez's sole purpose, to many fans, was to fix Fernando and in this he had failed in restoring him to the soaring heights of pre-Chelsea times. Benitez and Torres were lumped together in a sinking boat.

Benitez will perhaps be begrudgingly accepted as a success at Chelsea, delivering a European trophy and premier European football for Jose Mourinho, but he will probably never be loved as the aforementioned incoming manager is at the Bridge.

The Spaniard's past came back to haunt him at Chelsea but most fans will probably want to wish him good fortune at Napoli after ensuring the Blues' continued success.

 

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Topics:
Chelsea
Football
Premier League