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Rafa Benitez – More than just a stopgap?

MILAN, ITALY – NOVEMBER 24: FC Internazionale Milano head coach Rafael Benitezl during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between FC Internazionale Milano and FC Twente at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on November 24, 2010 in Milan, Italy.

With news slowly filtering in that Rafa Benitez is the man at Chelsea, one has to ask – Does Benitez really cut it, after what we saw at Inter Milan? Will he be able to get back to his leading ways like with Liverpool on that majestic night against AC Milan? Only time can tell. But that shouldn’t stop us from speculating, because unless we speculate, we cannot really say ‘we told you so’. Anyway, Twitter has been abuzz since Roberto Di Matteo and Roman Abramovich parted ways, and will only stop the day Torres gets back into his scoring boots, which might not be very soon.

Benitez is being called the last throw of the dice, and he might just be. With Pep Guardiola having been thrown in the mix, it is not an easy throne he sits on. What Avram Grant chose to do was completely his gamble, where he knew that a permanent job and Chelsea are never in the same sentence. Being an interim manager is obviously a step down by any standard, having seen the highest of stages with the biggest of teams.

And just because it is classified a project, Chelsea do not meet Benitez halfway in his demands.

Guardiola, essentially, will need time, even if he does materialize next year. He will need resources, abundant at the London club, to form a cohesive squad which can execute his commands right off the strategy board. His time at Barcelona was blighted only by the fact that apparently anyone could have won everything with that squad. The same can be said of Mourinho, and when the Portuguese manager stepped up for the Blue side of London, he took his time before Chelsea became a force to reckon with.

Benitez, on the other hand, is still not a comparable quantity, and doesn’t qualify to be bucketed with the aforementioned managers. He might even have lowered his equity when he takes over the orphaned side. When Benitez left Liverpool, he said he would never come back to another English side, as for him there was only one club in England. And promises are clearly meant to be broken, and words said are meant to be retracted, because Benitez has clearly made himself available for the job.

Then again, how long he will last is another question. Roman Abramovich is fickle and will not settle for simply a Champions League trophy and a FA Cup win in just under eight months. He clearly wants his balance sheet to tally, and Di Matteo was anything but a skilled accountant.

That leaves us with the curious case of Fernando Torres, who according to a stat doing the rounds of the internet, has averaged 2.75 goals per manager at Chelsea. Mind-boggling to say the least, and his transfer amount only compounds the concern. Could this be the last chance for the Spaniard who has left loyal fans very dissatisfied?

The speculation is rife, and come Benitez, the team that may actually benefit could have headquarters in Manchester.

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