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Is Benitez the best option for Chelsea ?

Chelsea have unveiled Rafael Benitez as their new coach, the clubs website confirmed. The former Liverpool boss will take over the blues following the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo. Benitez representatives are in England presently and the Spaniard has signed an 18 month contract with Chelsea. He will be the 10th manager in as many years and …

Chelsea have unveiled Rafael Benitez as their new coach, the club’s website confirmed. The former Liverpool boss will take over the Blues following the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo. Benitez’s representatives are in England presently and the Spaniard has signed an 18 month contract with Chelsea. He will be the 10th manager in as many years and will be taking charge of the team ahead of the crucial clash against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge this weekend.

“In football a lot of people are talking so we will see what happens in the next few days. I am looking for a club that can challenge for trophies and Chelsea is one of these clubs” says Benitez.

The 52 year old has been out of football for quite sometime now with his last managerial stint being with Inter Milan in Italy who sacked him in December 2010. He is known for his tactical acumen and deep knowledge of the game. Will he fit in the Chelsea setup and create a cup winning side ? Can he galvanize the squad and make it into an potent force to be reckoned with ? Is he the right man for Chelsea ?

Experienced Campaigner

Roberto Di Matteo was able to find a remedy from the catastrophic mishaps that the Blues faced and steered them to their first ever Champions League victory. They made some great signings in the summer with the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Victor Moses coming into the team. The team did gel well in the beginning of the season, but they suddenly seemed to have lost their way. Benitez is now left with the task of managing this star-studded line up and getting them back on track. The qualification to the next round of Champions League may be all but over for Chelsea but Benitez has to make sure that he guides them to the domestic title at least. Having handled players like Pablo Aimar, Steven Gerrard and Wesley Snijder during his days at Liverpool and Inter Milan, he has masterminded his previous clubs to victories over the very best. This included the 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid by Liverpool at Anfield in the Champions League. Benitez is credited with the transformation of Liverpool into a Champions League winning side in 2005. He also accomplished the task of winning the UEFA Cup and two La Liga’s with Valencia and led them to consecutive Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001.

Knowledge of the game 

He is known to be a master tactician with a calm deportment and can produce tactical changes when his side is going down. His tactics were the prime reason for Liverpool’s comeback and eventual triumph in the 2005 Champions League finals. Benitez, since his early days with  Tenerife and Valencia, has played a 4-2-3-1, regarded as the paradigm in Spain. He extended this philosophy to Liverpool and achieved great success. Chelsea too adopt the same formation with Mata, Hazard and Oscar playing as the feeders to the target man. The similar formation in Valencia saw Benitez bringing in an attacking intent to their game and they ended the 2003-04 season scoring 20 goals more than what they conceded. He employed Pablo Aimar in an attacking role and got the best out of the Argentine. At Liverpool, he had a 56% win record all owing to his midfield which was donned by Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard. He is a keen believer in rotating the squad and zonal marking. With a talented midfield at Chelsea, he can do the same magic by employing Juan Mata in a role similar to Aimar.

Solution to Torres’ barren spell ?

The one thing that Roman Abramovich might have seen in Benitez is the ability of the Spanish tactician to unlock the talent of the striker and make him a player he was at Liverpool. Ever since his move to London from Merseyside, Torres has failed to strike the right cord. He has scored only 11 times in 58 appearances for the Blues. Torres shattered the record of the most goals scored by a foreign player in a debut season by netting 24 times for the Reds. In total, he scored 65 goals in 102 appearances which included two successive hat-tricks in home games for Liverpool. He has the capability to bring back the Torres who was labelled the complete player owing to his overall goal scoring abilities. With the additional advantage of being able to converse in Spanish, this may be the thing that will get Chelsea and Torres back on track.

Although criticized by the Liverpool fans for failing to develop home grown talent, Benitez brought in Raheem Streling and the then 15-year-old Suso, both of whom are now regulars for Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers. Overall, this may be the master stroke by Roman Abramovich provided he places trust on the Spaniards tactics and waits for the magic to unfold.

Honours 

Extremadura

  • Segunda División Promotion: 1997–98

Tenerife

  • Segunda División: 2000–01

Valencia

  • La Liga : 2001–02, 2003–04
  • UEFA Cup : 2003–04

Liverpool

Internazionale

  • Supercoppa Italiana : 2010
  • FIFA Club World Cup: 2010

Individual awards

  • Don Balón Award : 2002
  • UEFA Manager of the Year: 2003–04, 2004–05
  • Premier League Manager of the Month: November 2005, December 2005, January 2007, October 2008, March 2009
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