Rafa makes a Blue Debut
Walking into a room with an ominous soundtrack is high on everyone’s wish list. Rafa Benitez, however, has that off his wish list. Benetiz’s welcome to Chelsea was marked by a crescendo of Rolling Stone’s grooves. Although, the real melody could have been Benitez discussing technicalities of the game, after almost two years of inaction.
While Benitez has been prolific at Liverpool and Valencia, winning them titles while they showed no substantial prowess, he hasn’t received a warm reception with the Blues fans. The Spaniard who is infamous for getting neck deep in club politics was greeted at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground with “Rafa Out” banners. He did deal with the criticism with a semblance of well acquired grace by stating that the fans’ apprehension wasn’t unfounded, but he was only ever playing the part of a passionate manager who wanted the team to play all the right cards. He also mentioned that he would put in the same kind of effort in pushing Chelsea up through the ranks. With all due respect, it was a compelling argument by Benitez but the question of whether the ice thawed between the Chelsea fans and him remains to be seen during the upcoming game against Manchester City game. However, whatever strategies he might come up with to appeal to the masses and the “hard to please” Abramovich, there is only one foolproof method for success and that is to bring home some silver.
In his first appearance as the interim manager, Benitez made some intriguing statements about his plans for the team. He suggested tweaks that could be made within the squad but maintained a polite appreciation of the more experienced players like Terry, Lampard and Cech; he also put in a word about younger stars like Oscar. On the much debated and discussed topic of one of the most expensive, under yielding asset, Fernando Torres, Benitez remained evasive. Abramovich’s fifty million pound indulgence has yet to do anything contributory to the club despite his reported potential. Torres has been quite vocal about his appreciation for Benitez and the coach’s contribution to his career. What remains to be seen is whether Torres remains the proverbial broken striker or rises above the hype.
Benitez is of the opinion that Chelsea and its owner’s trust lie on his shoulders, but Di Matteo would testify that if it isn’t bringing home the glory, trust is worth as much as Torres right now.