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An ode to Rafa Benitez;

I was at church during the time of our match against Aston Villa and so got to watch the match after I knew the result. This enabled me to watch it closely based on tactics and execution. This was one of the most satisfying displays I have seen of this team this year and brought back memories of the swashbuckling style that Carlo Ancelotti led to the double in his first year with us. I actually felt sad towards the end for that poor young Aston Villa side..boy did they get hammered. It also reminded me of another heavy beating we administered to the Villan's not so long ago; a 7-1 mauling again during Carlos time.

Enough reminiscing though. This article is however to give a shout out to Rafa Benitez..yes it is early but in the defense of the man so many Chelsea fans love to hate I felt it was time to state some of the good this man has done in the short time he has been here. I also write this hopeful that maybe..just maybe Roman and the Board may see some of these benefits and actually for once maybe consider giving this interim manager (honestly since the Roman era began which of our managers has not been an interim?) the time any side needs to build something of value at Chelsea FC.

Maybe because he is only an interim thus has little to lose, but Rafa has clearly been far more willing than most coaches we have had to make some calculated gambles. I would suggest the following strengths thus far of Rafas Regime and why I think Roman would be wise to give this guy time rather than sacking him at years end in his never ending lust for that guy called pep (who I am certain he will not get anyway).

1. The torres effect; Those who know me know that I like the guy but never felt we should have bought him..and that certainly we should never have had him as a sole or primary striker. That said only one who is blind will deny that El nino has looked the best in terms of his mood , desire and goal scoring productivity since Rafa`s arrival. I don`t know what it is but no coach..and we have had many try (Carlo, AVb, RDM) with little success, have had this effect on el nino. For the sake of making Roman not looking like a fool for spending 50m on this guy, Rafa is making something of Romans favorite toy that no one else has been able to. Roman don`t go messing with this for no just cause. El ninos fragile psyche is legendary. The guy is looking the closest to the El Nino of his Liver pool hey days..i hate to imagine what it will do to his psyche for Roman to fire Rafa ..it is pretty clear no matter what many fans here on VC say that we are not selling El nino any time soon. It appears Rafa is the only coach out there capable of making the guy look anywhere close to what Roman thought he was getting.

2. Squad rotation; This is another area where Rafas superiority to RDM is simply undeniable. He has done a great job of using a very thin squad the best possible considering injuries, suspensions etc. The only players we have not seen get any play time in his era thus far as short as it has been are Danny sturridge (for obvious reasons..the guy is headed to Liverpool), and Malouda (who I get the impression is more interested in doing a Wayne bridge and just getting his fat paychecks till end of summer when it is up). The guy has even got a place and role for Paolo ferraira. What he has achieved by this is keeping the players more fresh. This is a big deal considering the congestion of schedules we have ahead with Capitol cup, europa league, FA cup and BPL ties ahead.

3. Defensive structure; Another clear strength of Rafa which has always characterized his career is that the guy knows how to set up a defense. I had always said when we had RDM with us that contrary to what many of his critics said RDM was not a defensive coach..his strength and tendency was actually to attack and I always maintained that his failing seemed to be disciplined team defense for which I had suggested he get an experienced defensive coach as a part of his team. In Rafa we don`t have that as an issue. Rafa is in fact very similar to Jose in this respect..he builds his teams from back forwards. We have lost games with Rafa and doubtless we will lose more but I think anyone who is objective will admit that our team defense structure has certainly looked better and more disciplined..and we are conceding less overall. Also he has achieved this without the leadership of JT in our central defense. Those who are all gaga about so called attacking football may not appreciate this but I do. I have always wanted solidity at the back as the necessary foundation upon which all else is built.

4. Experience; This is an attribute you can only get with the passage of time and chances that come with variable opportunities. RDM simply had not had Rafas level of experience due to no fault of his. He is younger and has simply not had the exposure nor chances Rafa has. Rafa has essentially seen it all in the 3 big leagues in Europe; La Liga, the BPL and Seria A. In addition, this guy has also had the experience of lecturing and analyzing football games at the highest level since he had been out of active coaching. In essence thus he could give AVB a run for his money as regards the theory and academics of coaching styles and formations. I say all this because I know that Roman and his three Amigos are still having wet dreams about Pep. That guy does not have a third of the experience of Rafa. When Rafa was not actively coaching he was immersing himself in the theory of the game..Pep while out of the game is having fun eating Chicken Alfredo and seeing the sights in New York. My counsel ..be careful of this lust for what is out there and meanwhile undervaluing what you already have available.

5. The anti-hero effect; this is some circuitous reasoning but bear with me here and hear me out. One of the reasons being suggested out there as to why roman keeps sacking managers is his need to always remain the main man at the club. This theory says that whenever any manager begins to assume a profile where fans see him as more important and /or popular to the club than Roman (be it Ray wilkins, jose, RDM, Carlo etc ) he will pull the trigger before that person can attain any more fan power or popularity. If there is any element of truth to this then Rafa is the perfect coaching choice because the guy is generally so despised by the rank and file Chelsea fans who attend games that there is virtually nothing Rafa can do that will make him ever challenge Roman for popularity with the fans..Roman will never feel threatened in that wise.

With it all said and done I personally have no problems with the fans at the bridge and on away games continuing their 16 minute tributes to RDM. That does not have to be exclusive to cheering the team enthusiastically and also giving Rafa basic respect even if not hearty, vocal personal support. In fact the lack of that last fact probably gives him a perpetual edge of always trying to win the fans over and prove himself that may drive a thirst for success, excellence and trophies that may well exceed that which a loved and accepted manager may have.

One thing Rafa will never have as long as he is the Chelsea manager is the luxury to ever rest on his laurels or taking anything for granted. He will always be on edge..always watching his back and always waiting for that pink slip from Roman. Left to me Roman would be wise to keep this guy around even when the inevitable 'bad moments' come. Roman and co for once smell the coffee and appreciate what we have. This club needs just a tad of stability and pimping out for Pep or frankly anyone else at this point does not help us. Save that money and instead use it to get the players that Rafa needs and asks for from you. It is almost like the twilight zone here but here I am actually singing an ode to Rafa Benitez.




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The Journalist

Writer: GabeU Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday December 24 2012

Time: 1:07AM

Your Comments

I am beginning to like Spanish waiters now.
Blue Day
To me he is a good tactician but my worry would his desire for tinkering the team without an obvious reason... Should he minimise his basic instinct in tinkering the squad, I would love to see him stay.... Squad rotation is important for a big club like us... Get him some reinforcement come January and he could get us challenging the two Manchester clubs... We will decide from there...
DrWatsons
LOL! "Pep while out of the game is having fun eating Chicken Alfredo" that though sounds funny, seems to be the truth. Anyway, I think Rafa is doing a good job, the balance he has brought to our team is undeniable and a reflection of his level of experience. Like u have pointed out, it's not going to be rosy throughout but I think we can benefit a lot from Rafa's experience and tactical prowess if we give him some time... we the fans especially, have to be a bit patient with him when things are not going the way we want. I think he should be backed with the right reinforcements in January and let's see how it goes. I personally feel he will do a decent job, we need a coach with his level of boldness, confidence, authority and experience, I don't think CFC is a good ground for young and upcoming coaches, except a very confident, brave and bold one. Some fans have been calling for the return of Mourinho, like I said yesterday, I think that will be a costly mistake....
Latunvic
Rafa the gaffer. I knew we would finally support him if he does his job well. The team spirit is high now and we are playing well. If this guy could get the right personnel in January we could be up there with the best. However, we should approach one game at a time before we think of topping the table come May. Let's support the team and appreciate what the manager is doing too.
BOTUM
I haven't been convince by Rafa at all, yes we did trashed Villa and his tactics for that match was spot on but isn't it too early to start calling for Rafa stay. My liverpool friend told me when Rafa arrive that we will play well and win matchs but with Rafa we will lose alot of important matchs. Winning matchs and trashing teams doesn't make you a top manager, what makes a top manager is the ability to win alot of big and important matchs. Does Rafa has that ability? Only time can tell and until time tell, I ll not sing Rafa praise.
BluesArmy
He will only win over me if he wins PL. Otherwise he is still no for me.
Keyser Soze
As regards the 1st issue raised by the article,Torres to me isnt the only Lad Rafa got firing yesterday. Torres was average if juxtaposed with the rest of the team and i believe we were far deadlier when he left the pitch. No matter what,a top striker will be welcomed in January alongside Danny's replacement in a player such as Walcot. If JT recovers early enough, we should ditch the idea of signing a defensive mid cos we 'd be wasting a superb midfield maestro when we dont play Luis in the midfield, he enjoys the freedom and less pressure in the centre of the pack as opposed to a lot riskier back line. And his sheer desire to move the ball quickly and fearlessly makes him the best in that spot among what we have and can have. Rafa indeed deserves commendation,especially in the manner he rotates the team,as the author rightly pointed out,every player is getting involved and at this rate players like Saville and Feruz will get their chances. Rafa certainly knows how to maintain a tempo that opponents find difficult to cope with. I recall thats one of the reasons i hated us playing against 'Pool when he was there. We the fans need to give him the support,but still maintain a degree of unfriendliness with him,that way he cant get complacent.
Ohans
@gabeu, nice points raised in ur article, which I noticed too, but this is a bit premature, u of all people know what this man's arrogance can bring to the club, as drwatson said, he'll tinker unnecessarily with the team atimes and cost us games, he'll freeze some players out and will lost some games, If we get reinforcement in the striking department, do u think he'll bench torres? That is the greatest of my fears, he will change formation and try to accomodate that striker whoever he is and play him with torres, probably change our formation, so until then when I see how he copes, then I'll make up my mind, right now I am still wary, I don't wanna be like the fickle lot who are yapping like african green monkeys on his performance yesterday, only to bring out their rapiers if he loses the next game or draw and scream rafa out!!! The jury is still out on rafa
Desmondadonis
As regards the 1st issue raised by the article,Torres to me isnt the only Lad Rafa got firing yesterday. Torres was average if juxtaposed with the rest of the team and i believe we were far deadlier when he left the pitch. No matter what,a top striker will be welcomed in January alongside Danny's replacement in a player such as Walcot. If JT recovers early enough, we should ditch the idea of signing a defensive mid cos we 'd be wasting a superb midfield maestro when we dont play Luis in the midfield, he enjoys the freedom and less pressure in the centre of the pack as opposed to a lot riskier back line. And his sheer desire to move the ball quickly and fearlessly makes him the best in that spot among what we have and can have. Rafa indeed deserves commendation,especially in the manner he rotates the team,as the author rightly pointed out,every player is getting involved and at this rate players like Saville and Feruz will get their chances. Rafa certainly knows how to maintain a tempo that opponents find difficult to cope with. I recall thats one of the reasons i hated us playing against 'Pool when he was there. We the fans need to give him the support,but still maintain a degree of unfriendliness with him,that way he cant get complacent.
Ohans
Good article I think even the Rafa hate mob have to admit Rafa is improving our overall game play we do not look as vulnerable at set pieces or when we are attacking as we used to. Hazard seems to be picking up his game after a few indifferent performances in October and November and Torres scoring 6 in 5 games is no fluke either. Credit where its due.
Anarchy
Desmond,try to deal less on assumptions. ''If we get reinforcement in the striking department, do u think he'll bench torres? That is the greatest of my fears, he will change formation and try to accomodate that striker whoever he is and play him with torres, probably change our formation'' and '....he will? Lets not get unnecessarily stiff-necked because we dont like a man. When some gets it right you give credit for that and we he messes up,slate im accordingly. What we saw yesterday is typical of what we desire and if that continues,wouldnt it be deemed a folly not to retain the tactician? I mean if these qualities are visible althrough the season.
Ohans
he is an experienced and technical coach,did anybody noticed how we keep switching the ball from wing to wing when the other wing is congested,even Ashley cole passing long range balls to Azpi was magnificent,the wing is our strenght and Rafa has easily noticed that albeit he was here only one month,and thats why Oscar is doing the bench till he figures out where best is excellent for him,he also figured out Iva is not a natural Rightback and has to change that immediately,noticed also that Luiz has a sweeping ability,accurate shooting,through channel pass ability and a very keen eye for goal and deployed him in MF.another thing i noticed was the way Moses charged out of his line rapidly to mark and draw them back again.and like GabeU said,rotation has been Rafas forte and its going to make us solid and competitive again,from Oscar to Fereira,its a positive progress which means teams cannot figure us out easily.Mikel would be worried because Luiz,a player i use to hate because of his defensive blunders and nonchalant attitude has been doing what Mikel doesnt do because I DONT KNOW WHAT MIKEL DOES IN THAT MIDFIELD..
11bandwagon
Nice appeal for Rafa if he was staying unfortunately he is an INTERIM MANAGER. It was a great win Against Villa but we are talking about a largely young inexperienced team and while Im greatfull for the tie with goals on with the Mancunians its still a long way to may. He is a brilliant coach but Im with Roman on this one keep Rafa as a damage control measure till summer and then BRING ON THE PEP!
traykidd
@ Desmond i understand your concerns and they are valid. My article is not meant to suggest Rafa is perfect..far from it (and there are really no perfect coaches out there anyway)..some other articles i have written state some of his clear character flaws as i see them..his past history everywhere he has been does give pause but i am just suggesting that for once Roman and his amigos would be wise not to do what they usually do with managers at the first sign of trouble. I am also suggesting that frankly all things considered there is far more risk and danger involved in sacking Rafa at the first available excuse just so Roman can get his next toy in Pep. I guess it is wishful thinking on my part but i am hoping that Rafa may actually have learnt something from his time away from active coaching to address the recurrent themes that saw he run into trouble at Valencia, Liverpool and Inter. Maybe, just maybe this leopard can change its spots and maybe this Zebra can change its stripes. I just feel Roman and his amigos should give the guy a fair chance...which is more frankly than i think they afforded others before him like Jose, Carlo and RDM.
GabeU
It's still somewhat early days but we are surely in the right direction, which is a positive for me. To be honest I have more faith in Rafa than I did RDM, nothing personal but Rafa's experience isn't a cause for concern as RDM's was
@Mq
@GabeU Its too early to see anything with our good results against leeds villa etc. We need to wait and see how rafa does against thicker and good opposition is one thing. Also after the transfer window we will know for sure how he will manage the enigma of FT. CFC will surely sign a good first team forward that is for sure. Lets see whether he can keep FT welcomes it or goes back to his shell. Finally now a days i am not considering any coach at chelsea as permanent. All are interim managers. Like lot of fans are feeling the time has come for cfc to stick with a good manager whether its RAFA or JOSE or PEP or KLOPP. Name doesnt mtr but we should stick with a plan for atleast 3 yrs if we want to build some identity. Another good thing about RAFA is he is the man who restructured the entire Looserpool academy now Rodgers is benefiting from it. We must bring stability from this summer onwards to CFC for atleast 3 yrs or else its going to be downhill from now on wards bcz of FFP etc and all the big guns are moving forward.
BlueAndWhiteArmy
If not for his man management skills I think he will be a good coach. If he is able to win the friendship of everyone we will continue to impress. Believe me its not easy to be a manager of a side whose fans does not want you there, The players loved the previous coach. He has been a failure at Inter etc... But Surely he has done something which the other managers failed to do. He found the way to get Torres firing. Also I noticed on the left wing Cole does not move forward as he used to be as Hazard does not defend much and the right side you can see Azpi goes forward as Moses works hard to cover him. As everyone said , He sees the strength of the player and use them accordingly. That is what is expected from a manager.. Get the tactics right to the strength of the players. Not the other way like AVB tried to do. Wing play is important... That will create lot of space and CF can attack. We are no Barcelona who can just pass and pass and pass. its so boring.
Jay Blue 7
Earlier I used to worry what will happen to Oscar if he contiues to play every match... He is so lean and he is still in tender ages.. The English football is very demanding... The hard workers , Ramires , Mikel have not played much now .. It may be due to they don't suit his tactics... but the thing in They will be fresh now .. It may be that he is giving wantedly rest to Rami,Oscar and ofcourse Mikel is suspended... The important thing is that he is rotating them as much as he can and keeping them fresh... Thats important...
Jay Blue 7
We need to close the gap on ManChester clubs.... If we continue to play like this ... then who knows we can really win the league....
Jay Blue 7
Should we win the PL title it will give Roman food for thought and the other two cups on offer FA Cup add the Capital One Cup.
Elbowz
Wow, great article m8!
ForeverChels
Nice article@gabeu,it sure rings out what me and a few others have been sayin eversince rafa was appointed..rafa is managin our team very well and so deserves credit for a job welldone...haters would never get tired of hatin,sayin villa is an inexperience side forgetin that this inexperience villa side nearly beat man-u,drew le arse and won at anfield last week.
Ken4CFC
A point you eluded to in your article bears great significance in terms of a manager's longevity at a club. That being, courageousness. Perhaps Rafa takes these calculated gambles because he knows he can do no worse than get fired. If he was not an interim, perhaps he would play a little bit more cautious.. I personally believe being a full-time manager means walking on eggshells all the time and reverting back to what works in the past in times of trouble in lieu of experimenting and perhaps finding a great discovery (e.g. Luiz playing as a mid).
ForeverChels
@ohans, u obviously don't get me, and seriously I am not in amood for convincing u of my opinion, if u think my worries are born out of hate, then u obviously don't know me or know anything about rafa,@gabeu, I know u'll get the drift, I for one just hope the good results continues and I'll be waiting to be proven wrong about my worries concerning rafa and what our board will bring to cfc come january
Desmondadonis
No one can argue that Benny is not an improvement on RDM, RDM simply did not have the experience do what is a very hard job at CFC with the itchy finger Russian. Lets see where Benny gets us to at the end of the season but if he does well I dont have any problem if he is kept for another season. There are rumours Real Madrid want him as well so we'll see. I used to hate playing Liverpool when he was coach there and we had Mourinho. He out thought Mourinho so many times with an inferior team it just wasnt funny!
eddy_theeel
How many times did he out think mourinho? Apart from the luis garcia's ghost goal, the penalty win in both UCL semi finals(which doesn't show he out thought him) where did u keep the cup win? Or the way we destroyed rafa's team 4-1 at anfield? The rest are draws, 0-0. Or 1-1 draws, pls remind me if I missed anyother, rafa is a good coach, but don't insult mourinho by comparing them.
Desmondadonis
@ GabeU: Great article as always. @Ohans: 1) I agree with you, I felt we played much better when Torres was off the pitch. 2) Young Blues: It was nice to see Piazon on the pitch I hope we score more goals in the first half in future games so that he can give youngsters (Ake, Piazon, Feruz, Marin, Savile,...) a chance . 3) TEMPO: If we can maintain a high tempo through 90mins we will be alright.
B2K420
Good article GabeU but im am definitely not giving my support to Tubby. Hes won against Monterey,Leeds and now Aston Villa and we should believe he is good for us? Rafa for all his experience has never,i repeat NEVER fought hard for a league title! He finds a way to mess it up! The one he won at Valencia was during a period when Real and Barca were re-building. Rafa should never be allowed near our transfer kitty. He has a terrible transfer record...he is trying to replace Ashley Cole with A.Ekoto. In my opinion,He is no different to Mark Huges when it comes to transfers. Huges by the way should be sued by Tony Fernandes for whatever reasons he can find. Rafa has done nothing special yet. All we are seeing is just the after effect of changing managers. My opinion!
3nity
Rafa said that the player/s we are trying sign might not be the best in the world but they will be good for the team/improve our team. It looks like we will not get Falcao.
B2K420
And Rafa out think Mou? You gotta be kidding. Mou won league and multiple cups while Rafa was buying loads of players and rotating his squad like a carousel. I will wait and see what happens at the end of the season before saying more about him but singing his praises already is really premature and shocking! Whats the essence of beating monterey when you are gonna lose to Corinthians? I wont be surprised if we beat Norwich and then lose at Everton. Thats what Rafa does and thats why he has never won the league here. Liverpool gives a hell of a fight against us and loses to a very small team. I hope he doesnt turn us into that kind of team. But as GabeU pointed out,perhaps the ''interim'' tag is a genius thing at the end of the day. Something to keep him on his toes and see how he does at the end of the season. Until then,the jury is still out.!
3nity
@3nity: You have got a point, I would judge Rafa after the Everton, Stoke & Arsenal games. We don't need to get our hopes up so soon.
B2K420
There is no point comparing Rafa and Mourinho, they both have their strong points and weaknesses.. We can also argue that Mourinho, with all the money he splashed and quality players he had, was unable to beat Rafa's Liverpool and was unable to win CL which Rafa's liverpool did.... What I deduce from the article is a message pointing out that Rafa has been able to add to our team, some qualities which were missing before he came.... The article also pointed out that he has learnt a lot and have acquired more experience over time which could prove positive for us. As the article have said, let's back him up with reinforcements in January and see how it goes, if we see some positives by end of season then we should extend his contract, we shouldn't just sack him because it's our culture to sack coaches or because we want to bring in Pep by all means.... That's what I get from the article, all these arguments about Mourinho vs Rafa makes no sense....
Latunvic
he is the first one to play luis in the right posistion so bravo i for one am starting to like him in fact if this carries on there will be more than a few insisting he gets the job permanently
herefordchelsea
TBH we all know that he is a way better manager than RDM but we are all obviously biased towards him. RDM constantly played 3 amigos and we were very narrow by making moses and hazard more like actual wingers he is stretching the opposition.
Humza_96
1 thing most of you wouldnt have noticed is that our def line was quite high allowing us to presss further up the pitch the amount of times benteke was caught offside proves that that was a bit of a tactical masterstroke
Humza_96
Did any of you noticed Oscar & Ramires didn't look happy when they came on, in other words they would have liked to start the game. I hope this squad rotation does not destroy team morale/unity. If we get Falcao Rafa might play Torres & Falcao in the same team and that might have an affect on our team balance.
B2K420
@ GabeU good article. I am pretty sure if the board back him in January, he will get the job full time at the end of the season. Torres to getting back to his best just because were now playing to his strength. Most of his goals while in Liverpool was from defence splitting passes. I pointed that out in my only article here. Did anyone noticed Cahill try to send him through with a long pass in the early stage of Villa's game, this shows RAFA is a masterclass. There is no need to pay 50mil for any player and not to play to his strength.
jollyheart Torres
I can just picture Rafa now skimming through this article after reading the title in haste wondering where his scoop of ice cream is.
ForeverChels
I was pretty sure I was gonna see a Rafa ass licking article today....Lol. No disrespect GabeU,I think it was a pretty good article and very insightful as all your articles usually are. We know Rafa's Strength and Weakness as a manager,there's no denying there's a difference in over all team approach,but its just way too early to talk about a long term view Jeez...Its annoying when i see some fans talking without a certain perspective (relating to comments)...I remember clarifying that every Manager has their Honey moon period and Slump period,,but it will be na´ve to think its going to be all rosey from here on. There's certainly going to be a period where he has to manage the slump during the course of the remaining matches...and also manage players morale which is part of his weakness. Its too early,we will draw win and lose games under Rafa,what happens at the end of it all is what matters...As far as I'm concerned he is interim and that's all he'll be...As soon as the season is over,he takes his luggage and can fly off to timbuktu for all I care.
nelyvanile
@nely ''fly off to timbuktu!!''...what a wish for Tubby....i am still laffing...
layorh12
Merry Christmas everybody on Vital Chelsea!
eddy_theeel
GabeU...well said..thanks...I agree that Tubby has been more of a tactician than RDM...let's face it, RDM wouldn't try DL in the midfield role..If DL proves to be a real CM/DM player, Tubby has successfully improved the team from within and to that I applaud..i don't get the feeling as if Falcao is coming at all.. I could be wrong but if Falcao comes it is the end of Torres...I expect Chelsea to purchase a young second tier back-up to Torres...Just my feeling... I agree with GabeU about this obsession with Pepe..I don't get it..I am willing to give Tubby a chance..as he is trying things that i appreciate...However, if I see Lamps and Ramires again in the pivot...forget it all as that is plain stupid...
lamarochs
 

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