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Whilst I am personally unconvinced of his suitability for the role, Rafael Benitez has emerged as the favourite to settle into the hot seat at Stamford Bridge.
Ostensibly, however, I can see the appeal for Roman Abramovich: Benitez has extensive Premier League experience, he has European pedigree—having won the Champions League with Liverpool and the UEFA Cup with Valencia—and he has the sort of cosmopolitan persona that has historically appealed to the Russian boss.
However, the flaws in Benitez’s CV are hard to ignore, and may count against him in such an environment as Chelsea.
For all of the glory of "That night in Istanbul," the truth about the Spaniard’s reign at Liverpool are considerably more inglorious. Despite having a squad containing the likes of Steve Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso—not to mention Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina in the prime of their careers—Benitez failed to bring the Premier League to Anfield. In fact, there was only one season where he was remotely close to the league’s summit.
Benitez’s temperament can also be questioned; his squabbles with Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson were exuberant to the point of embarrassment, whilst his transfer policy can also come under scrutiny. Whatever became of all those bright talents that he signed (for considerable fees) at Liverpool?
They tell me Antonio Nunez works in a café these days.
Still, one of Abramovich’s obsessions in recent years has been getting the best out of Fernando Torres—his £50 million Spanish bombshell. Could Benitez, who brought his compatriot to England and who got the best out of him in the EPL, be the man to ignite El Nino?