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Rafa`s Reign at Chelsea

Rafa`s Reign at Chelsea

If there is something Saturday through today has taught us, it is to follow Neil Ashton.

I maintain, one should follow and read his stuff on Chelsea. He more than any journalist gets it right when it comes to affairs of our beloved club. He's been spot on about the dressing room row; our lineup against Juventus; the sacking of RDM; and the hiring of Benitez.

With past managers like Ranieri, AVB, Carlo, RDM and Mourinho, one knew what to expect from the coaches. But Benitez on the other hand, let's see if we can try to address what to expect, both good and bad.

His achievements at Liverpool and Valencia cannot be overlooked. He is a proponent of the 4-2-3-1 formation; in love with attacking full-backs and incredibly technical attacking midfielders and also passing central midfielders who don't concede possession easily.

His days at Valencia provide evidence that he knows how to organize and set up the defense. He knew how to get 9 behind ball once they lost possession and launching attacks once his side regained possession. I guess this is a positive for us given how leaky our defense has become. He's admitted to Arrigo Sacchi being a big influence to his coaching career not directly, but his philosophy. In one of his interviews, he did say this in regards to emphasis in training of his sides:

'The first priority is to improve defensive tactical play because this is less complicated than the attacking side and is important for success. The most important thing for me is to be organised. I work a lot on patterns of play and, of course, as the statistics prove, counter-attacks and set-plays are very important. When we talk about set-plays, I agree with Sir Alex (Ferguson) that delivery is everything.'

In a defense that is leaking crazy goals like a whore, we can add this as a positive to him as the interim manager. Apart from Jose's first season where we conceded only 15 goals in the PL, Benitez's Liverpool conceded at worst 3 goals more than Chelsea even up until he was sacked. There is however his zonal defense which I will be closing my eyes.

He also knows how to bring the best out of players he values: Torres from Atletico; Gerrard had his best season under him; Alonso and Mascherano made their bones underneath him. So if he values a player, he will likely bring the best out of the player. However, they've been an incredible amount of flops and expensive nobodies bought by the coach. I can see Mata, Oscar, Eden, and even Piazon getting better with him as manager. One can argue they will improve their attacking co-ordination upfront, movement and passing under Rafa. He could teach us a bit about pressing intelligently and defending better.

So if there are positives and a place we can expect immediate improvement in the squad is our defense which is the worst department right now on the pitch.

Now the negatives:

1.) Hated & Despised by Chelsea fans - Take your pick; Spanish waiter; tubby; and all sorts of names. If this decision turns out to become a disaster on the pitch; expect a serious backlash from the Stamford Bridge faithful. I don't believe Bruce and/or Ron will survive such a serious disaster on the pitch.

Sacking a fan favourite to hire probably one of the most hated coach in recent times just proves just how out of touch the Board is with the fans. This leaves a sour taste and will have an impact on other concessions Ron and Bruce will expect from fans such as moving away from Stamford Bridge.

2.) What does this mean for transfers? - No doubt we lack depth in the CF and CM position where reinforcements should be brought in, but what influence will Rafa have in those decisions? Will Emenalo be consulting the 'new' coach or rather Pep in the summer for such transfer decisions being made in January? How do they reconcile if the interim manager and Pep do not agree with a potential transfer target? What about Emenalo? Do we think a control freak like Rafa will allow players he doesn't want to be forced on him?

3.) The big elephant in the room; Torres - What will Rafa do with him? Roy Hodgson, Carlo Ancelotti, AVB, RDM and Del Bosque have failed to help the striker find any sort of form whatsoever. Will Rafa become a casualty trying to succeed where others have failed or will he bring in a striker? If a striker is brought in, will Rafa drop Torres if his poor form continues? If he fails, I believe that will be the end of everything Liverpool at Chelsea. Merieles, Yossi and Torres will be gone by the summer.

4.) Man-management - The nicest and finest of players have mentioned how his coaching methods and personality might come out as being cold to his players. The situation that led to the eventual departure of Xabi Alonso is an example. This is usually the case when he has player clashes or a player's technique and skills do not fit his philosophy. How does this bode for players like Ivanovic (a CB who doesn't attack properly as RB), Ramires (work horse with no passing skills whatsoever), Daniel Sturridge, Mikel (passing and interception skills, but not a lot of penetrative positive passing and mobility offered), Lampard, Bertrand etc?

5.) How does he deal with the veterans? - The eventual sacking and contract haggles with Ashley and Lampard probably spells the end of their Stamford Bridge careers in the summer. With yet another new coach in the summer, their departures have been cemented. If I recall correctly, Michael Ballack said Roman refused to talk to him about a renewal even though he was ready to accept a pay cut to his salary just to stay with Chelsea. Lampard and Cole are already going through the same experience.

We'd probably see the positives immediately, but the negatives will only manifest as the season goes on and if things go south. IF things go south, Benitez will make it nasty and Roman, Ron and Bruce will look like fools.

This is not an approval or disapproval of Rafa as a coach because at the moment, we as Chelsea fans will welcome anybody who can get this team to start realizing its full potential. But I can't help but wonder how one decision can lead to more bad decisions that then create over 20+ questions on hiring an interim manager.

The other thing no one has spoken about is this; what if Pep says no in the summer and Benitez wins the PL title? What will Roman do?

Over to you VC Brothers.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Wednesday November 21 2012
Time: 9:08PM


Nice article mate - I hope for all the good things you mention especially getting the defence sorted and dare I say it I would be looking to bring courtouis back sooner rather than later!
21/11/2012 21:14:00
nice unbiased article. but the thing is its nt like last season we ddnt NEED
21/11/2012 21:42:00
nice unbiased article. but the thing is its nt like last season we ddnt NEED
21/11/2012 21:42:00
* to sack RDM. we r still in my opinion in a bettr position thn last yr with avb
21/11/2012 21:44:00
Tbh if he wins the what..RDM won the CL and look where that got him....
21/11/2012 21:46:00
@Embers, if Rafa wins the title and Pep says no, Abramovich will be forced to stick with Rafa. However Rafa's personality; record in the transfer market; bad player manager etc.....
21/11/2012 21:51:00
very surprised at this appointment, i think Harry would do a better job til the summer. Benitez is terrible at signing players however your new philosophy of signing whoever spurs are interested in makes this irrelevant lol
21/11/2012 22:01:00
Nice one @Kaku...Love it
21/11/2012 22:01:00
only time will tell , pray and hope for Rafa! if roman chooses rafa , ill stick by rafa!
21/11/2012 22:12:00
Very well written KAKU but you failed the bigger and more likely Joker question. Our chances of winning the BPL are virtually nil..i am just being real here...we are going to be a struggle to stay in 3rd. The bigger question to ask is this; If Pep spurns us in the summer and we dont win anything as far as trophies (or even if we do maybe win the Carling cup) and manage a top 4 finish then what? Will Roman change that interim tag? If not who is left out there who is crazy enough to accept this position?
21/11/2012 22:22:00
Anybody who can get this team start realizing its full potential?Didnt we all knew that,? That we need a PROPER striker. Nice reading though Kaku, I wished that AVB didnt mess up last season, if not maybe Lukaku would be hunger to play for us this season and things may not so mess up right now. Well, things happened, and for so many reasons
21/11/2012 22:24:00
Your point is well writing, no matter what I believe Benitez will be gone by May
21/11/2012 22:27:00
Nice one @Kaku... As with any new manager, it will favour some players and will be harsh on others... I think Pep is the real target and Rafa will be released at the end of the season. There really isn't any other experienced coach we can hijack as interim and this is no time for experiment with a young inexperienced coach. I think the fear of not qualifying from the CL group stage is what prompted the board to sack RDM, and I feel maybe RDM was unable to defend his tactics and strategies... RDM need to go learn more about tactics, strategies and how to properly utilize players.....
21/11/2012 22:32:00
Well that will be something we win the PL under him that will give RA more to think about.
21/11/2012 22:44:00
He was the only alternative, I just didnt see RDM lifting us out of the slump. Funny how the press that RDM the luckiest manager, now quest RA's decision. I for one I am not entirely disappointed with the sacking and appointment. Makes so much sense. RB is the best coach available now, and this gives us one more chance to salvage something out of Torres, he knows the Premier league, he speaks Spanish, we give till the end of the season. Since Barcelona has had coaches. Lets get behind Rafa, I for one certainly trust the team in his hands than RDM. We had the same defenders last year and we held Barca, and Buyen and now we just cant defend. The fact is the players won the CL and now that the spine of those player is gone, RDM gets exposed. We just cant afford not to qualify for the champions league
21/11/2012 22:49:00
Good article Kaku
21/11/2012 22:56:00
I like this article, although I don't quite understand how Torres, Cole and Lampard are negatives that can be attributed to Benitez... What I liked about Liverpool when he coached them was their organization and their pressing. That's something we are lacking right now, so Benitez just might turn out to be a good choice after all.
21/11/2012 22:58:00
Not sure how he was the only alternative available. Was Laurent Blanc approached? Because he is also a good alternative.
21/11/2012 23:04:00
I'm sorry Harry would have done till the summer? What is Chelsea a prostitute and everyone gets a ride. Pep said no he is not ever gonna choose you and why should he? he won't get a chance to build a Team he had the greatest players in the world at barca all came through Barca they are Barca fans he too it is unlikely he will emulate what he did at barcelona. He and all players he would buy would have no true passion to the heart to succeed at Chelsea. The sort of passion Di Matteo had for Chelsea that can not be Brought. Hmm what happened last Time Rafa took the job of the European champions ????
21/11/2012 23:05:00
@kaku,What experience has Laurent Blanc got compared to Rafa Benitez??comon mate,he is the best/only available now
21/11/2012 23:31:00
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