Writer: Site Staff
Date:Friday March 29 2013
As former Chelsea striker Jimmy Greaves became famous for saying, football is a funny old game and nothing would be funnier than seeing Rafa Benitez end his association with the Blues holding a trophy in each of his two hands.
In spite of Chelsea supporters spending large portions of their team's games voicing their considerable displeasure about Benitez, the Blues have a great chance of winning not one but two of European club football's premier competitions.
Chelsea have to beat Manchester United and Manchester City in back-to-back English FA Cup ties to reach the final against either Millwall or Wigan, while the Blues also have an excellent UEFA Europa League draw after being paired with Rubin Kazan.
All of Chelsea's remaining English FA Cup ties will take place in London so that is something about which its fans should be happy, while the Blues really ought to justify quotes of around 2-5 to reach the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at the expense of their Russian foes.
To say that the wheels have come off Rubin Kazan's domestic and international campaigns would be a gross understatement, with the side based approximately 500 miles east of Moscow having experienced great difficulty in scoring goals since the end of November 2012 - four long months ago.
Excluding extra time, which Rubin Kazan required to account for Levante in the last round of the UEFA Europa League, the Kurban Berdyev-coached team has scored only one goal in its last five competitive matches. If one includes the various friendly games that Rubin Kazan played to keep match fit during the Russian winter, it has netted four normal-time goals in its last 13 outings. Take away its very impressive defeat of then UEFA Europa League title favourite Atletico Madrid and everything else reads like a horror story.
Therefore, Chelsea should be confident of qualifying for the last four of the Europa League by overcoming Rubin Kazan and getting one step closer to becoming the first English side to complete a clean sweep of major UEFA club titles.
Chelsea is odds on to end the English Premier League season in the top three and odds against to overhaul Manchester City and snatch second spot. There does not appear to be a glaring error regarding the finishing position markets of the Blues, with Benitez's team likely to run third.
As ever, what is interesting is the betting market on the next permanent Chelsea manager. One enterprising bookmaker is offering odds of around 10-1 that Benitez is in charge of the Blues on the first day of the 2013-2014 English Premier League season. The bookmaker in question has left at least a couple of zeroes off the end of his quote. Benitez has said that he will not be at Stamford Bridge for next campaign and there would be a skirmish to match that of the 1006 battle in the Yorkshire village of the same name if he was in situ.
Former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is the hot favourite at odds of around 13-8 and, while there has been talk of the Blues approaching Stamford Bridge legends Gustavo Poyet and Gianfranco Zola as a result of their managerial successes with Brighton and Watford respectively, the most intriguing name in the various markets remains that of John Terry.
The 66-1 that was available about Terry becoming the latest Chelsea player-manager - the Blues had three in a row from June 1993 to September 2000 when Glenn Hoddle, Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli each had at least 80 games at the helm - has evaporated, with 25-1 being the best on offer now.
Of course, Mourinho deserves to be the favourite but, if the Special One decides that returning to his old stomping ground and locking horns with Abramovich once again would not be his smartest career move, then Terry would be a live outsider, such is his status within the Chelsea club.
For all his faults - Terry has been in and out of trouble, both on and off the pitch, throughout his career - no-one doubts that the Chelsea captain has an astute football brain. And he would have the respect of the Blues players, something that has not been the case for most managers.
Guardian journalist David Lacey has been one of the sanest voices among the English football press corps for a couple of decades. When someone with the gravitas of Lacey writes that Terry could be Chelsea's next gaffer - something that he did this time last year - one should take notice. If one does not mind a frivolous flutter every now and then, back Terry at 25-1 to succeed Benitez on a permanent basis.
If you use online bookies at all, then the bet365 mobile site are doing a free ú50 bonus which you can use to have a punt on JT or any other bet of your choice. Does JT have a chance of being the next manager? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Date:Friday March 29 2013
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