Gathering dark clouds 6;
Before I begin let me say upfront that despite what I write below we actually have much to be thankful for today; considering how we played today against Brentford we should consider ourselves blessed and fortunate to have a chance for a do-over in a few days time at Stamford Bridge; Liverpool and Spurs among others were not so lucky.
That having been said I felt compelled to write the 6th chapter to this rather dour series following two sets of recent comments I gathered on line supposedly from our interim manager Rafa Benitez. I reproduce them verbatim below for your information.
"If you go outside and it's snowing and you fall down, they say, 'Ah, he fell down'. But the reality is, it's snowing, which makes it slippery and makes you fall down.
So if you analyse all the managers [at Chelsea], how many had a pre-season here? Not me. How many managers have spent massive money here? Not me. How many managers have played in Japan in the middle of the season and have some players injured and some at the African Nations? Only me;" Rafa Benitez -Source: The Mail.
Dan Levene @BluesChronicle; "Benitez has confirmed there will be no more incoming transfers for Chelsea this January."
I will hasten to say that I have not seen any actual video nor heard any audio of these alleged statements from Rafa so this may all be the result of conjecture from the diabolical English Press who don`t exactly love Chelsea FC anyway. I frankly hope that is the case because if these two statements are actually true and actually the words of our interim manager they are ominous.
In my article a few days back on squad depth I referenced some recent comments Rafa made to the media regarding our squad depth issues and his discussions with the board on it. If these two statements above are Rafa`s follow up on that then we have one of three possible scenarios only one of which is palatable;
1. Rafa is being kept totally in the dark by Roman and the three Amigos and they want him to remain squarely in his place as coach/trainer and nothing else. Before the window closes they will get 2-3 players we need to bolster our squad depth, Rafa will be left with egg on his face and made to look like he hasn`t a clue what is going on in the club he is supposedly managing. I would feel for Rafa in this case but I wont lose any sleep..the important thing would be that the board does what is best for the team and our chances of a top 3 finish in the BPL by season`s end will be so much brighter. I could live with this (notice I said nothing about trophies..for me that boat sailed when Swansea kicked us out of the Capitol one cup).
2. Rafa has been rightly informed by the board..they have told him what will happen and come February 1 nothing will change. They will essentially be saying that they could care less about Rafa's opinion as regards squad depth and are essentially telling him; Do the job with the tools you have been given and stop complaining. If that is the case Rafa has already long begun his contingency planning because unlike RDM and Carlo who are gentlemen and good company men who wont bad mouth their bosses, Rafa is no such person. He is essentially sending coded messages through the media to indicate that he has had nothing to do with the Chelsea set up and like Jose famously called out Roman and the board after the Sheva signing, Rafa is essentially in coded language saying;
" I was given a train wreck to fix with no spare parts or tools so when the excreta hits the fan and is sprayed everywhere you know where to lay the blame..i had nothing to do with it and warned them before hand."
Whether you agree or not he is trying to insulate himself from the blame for what is coming and preparing the excuses he will offer at his next job interviews in the summer when Roman gives him his pink slip and he has to defend what may end up being a diabolical Chelsea record.
Anyone who knows Rafa's history at Valencia, Liverpool and Inter will realize that this is not new. This is the way this man operates. He never likes to accept nor shoulder any blame when results go south..most especially if the owners have not followed in toto what he has had to say.
3. Rafa may be playing a dangerous game of reverse psychology and without hearing anything from the board he may have planted this disinformation hoping that by saying this out loud to the media he can "shame" the board into action in the last few days of this transfer window. This could work with an end result similar to option 1 above in which case I have no problem or it could backfire spectacularly with the board so miffed by his temerity that they stick to their guns, refuse to sign anyone reasoning that the guy cannot be trusted to even tow the company line and then once he has one more embarrassing loss sack him immediately. Some may feel this would be wonderful but I don`t. For reasons I have articulated before I don`t feeling changing managers for the second time this season will serve us any good purpose.
The final question to ask though is why, if true would the board decide to get no more reinforcements to the squad either by recalling loanees or buying new players? There are many theories here. I will mention a few quick ones;
a)The board have already thrown in the flag for the season and don`t feel it is salvageable in any form so why waste money trying
b) the board feel that while we wont win the BPL we already have enough to comfortably retain a top 3 and at worst top 4 finish as we are now and so don`t want to spend any money at this point with an interim manager knowing that come summer a new manager will be coming and a major expensive reboot will then be needed
c) the board may actually feel what is all the ado about and actually feel that we are fine as is and can actually challenge for the BPL title itself as is so why bother?
Or most ominously
d) the loss of interest that many of our rivals from other clubs always touted would eventually happen regarding Roman has begun. Could it be that our benefactor may actually for the first time in the decade he has been with us be saying "I am not spending a dime more..this is not worth it..show me what the 80+ million I spent just this last summer has achieved before asking for one more dime!!!"
God forbid could we be seeing the beginning of the evolution of Roman from Santa Claus to Ebenezer Scrooge?
Whatever the underlying intrigue or reasoning, what transpires in the next 4 days or so I suspect will have major implications for our club not just for this season but possibly for the next few seasons as well. If we fail to secure a top 3-4 finish in the BPL at seasons end and Roman becomes more stingy with opening his check book we may suddenly be faced with the nightmare scenario that Liverpool faced after their climb to the summit at Istanbul.
I personally don`t feel at all assured that our position among the top 3 or 4 is secure with our squad as is now..it does not help to remember that with their exits today, Spurs and Liverpool now both have less congested match schedules ahead than we do and remain in the hunt along with Arsenal and Everton for those valued no 3 and 4 BPL positions.
I hope I am wrong and just being paranoid but I see dark clouds ahead for the good ship Chelsea FC. May the Good Lord have mercy on her.