Chelsea fans' treatment of Rafael Benitez has been vindicated

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Football fans can be cruel. Today, Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew is being talked about in some circles as a candidate for Manager of the Year. Six months ago, however, he was the manager of Newcastle United and fans were baying for his blood.

Whilst they might be regretting their treatment of him, Chelsea fans are unlikely to lose sleep over their former Interim Manager Rafael Benitez's woes at Napoli. Whilst their abuse of the former Liverpool boss during his time at Stamford Bridge was inhumane, it has been vindicated on strictly footballing terms.

Hung out to dry

Benitez was never given a chance by the Stamford Bridge faithful, who held a grudge over his perceived disrespect of them during his time at fierce rivals Liverpool. Benitez was booed throughout his tenure - starting with his first game (a 0-0 home draw to Manchester City).

Whilst he won over a minority of the Chelsea fans after guiding them to third place in the Premier League and Europa League success; Benitez remained unpopular at Stamford Bridge. Indeed, The Daily Mail alleged that he clashed with the club's players, as well as the fans.

Special wish granted

Whilst Benitez was in charge, Chelsea fans demanded for the return of his arch-rival, José Mourinho. When the Spaniard's contract expired, their calls were answered. Since returning to the club, he has won over 64% of his games and his side now sit top of the Premier League.

By contrast, Benitez is reportedly on the verge of having to look for another new job. His Napoli side are in 6th position in Serie A - eight points off a Champions League place - and coming of the back of a Coppa Italia Semi-Final exit. He has done little since leaving Chelsea to prove that their supporters were wrong to ask for Mourinho back, rather than begging him to stay.

Benitez's Chelsea career overrated?

There is a common misconception that Benitez saved Chelsea from disaster during his time at the club. When he took over, Chelsea were in 3rd position - four points off the top of the league. They finished the campaign in the same spot, 14 points behind champions Manchester United.

He did well to guide Chelsea to the Europa League title, but he was working with a supremely talented squad that was unlucky not to still be in contention to defend their Champions League crown.

The Chelsea fans who made Benitez feel uncomfortable in his job will struggle to morally justify it without sounding bitter and petty.

However, there is no doubt that the replacement they successfully demanded for has proved to be a significant upgrade.

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