by Emma Booth
As quickly as Roberto was fired, Rafa was brought in—and in less than 12 hours—Chelsea had a new interim manager.
Interim—the first clue that Benitez hasn’t been brought in by Roman Abramovic for the long term.
Abramovic made it clear that he was happy to wait for Pep Guardiola to finish his 12-month sabbatical before trying to convince him to come to Stamford Bridge. In fact it was even suggested that Di Matteo was only on a one year contract as Roman waited it out for the ex-Barca boss (Mirror Football).
What is there to suggest that Benitez hasn’t been offered that exact same opportunity?
Rafael has the attitude and personality to believe he can change things at the Bridge, and rightly so. He has had many high profile jobs, such as Valencia, Liverpool and Inter Milan, and has won a Champions League, two La Ligas and an FA Cup during his time at the top.
But there is no mention of the Premier League on that list, and this is the crème de la crème for Abramovic.
Obviously an FA Cup and Champions League in the first six months of your tenure isn’t enough to satisfy the Russian billionaire, and RDM was shown the door at the first signs of failure—the loss to Juventus in midweek.
In fact, the only permanent Chelsea manager that Abramovic regretted sacking during his reign is Jose Mourinho, and that is mainly due to his success in the Premier League [The Guardian]
The only two managers who have lasted more than 32 games are the Special One and Carlo Ancelotti, and both won the title in their first season in charge [The Daily Telegraph].
If Abramovic does have a change of heart and turns Benitez’s contract from interim to permanent (as he did with Di Matteo), history suggests he will need to win the title this campaign. Else it could be adios to Benitez before June.
If results do end up going Rafa’s way, then there could be another stumbling block in his quest for the job long-term. His ability to fall out with owners and players alike is all down to his quest for ultimate power.
Benitez doesn’t take kindly to owners sticking their nose in, and Abramovic doesn’t like being told what to do. Does anybody else see a potential problem looming on the horizon? With two power hungry personalities in the two most important roles at the club, this can only spell trouble.
So will Benitez last long under Abramovic? Unless they arrive at a mutually beneficial relationship when it comes to who is in charge of what, unless Benitez wins the Premier League and unless Abramovic ends his love affair with Pep Guardiola—the answer is no.
But if Benitez gets to collect a weekly pay check for six months, and gets his old flame Fernando Torres scoring again to lead Abramovic’s Chelsea to at least one piece of silverware—both parties will have an enjoyable six months.
Rafael Benitez at Chelsea: Here for a good time, not for a long time.
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