Rafa Benitez to Chelsea: Why Benitez Is the Right Man for the Job
In the short time that it took Chelsea to appoint a new manager following the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo, the club have done well with the hiring of Rafa Benitez.
Given the urgency that the club was under to find a new manager, out of all the candidates rumored to be interested in the gig, Benitez was the right man for the job.
You could nearly go as far as to say that he is the perfect man to choose.
His tactics, his history, his ideology—heck, even his willingness to take on the new role despite knowing full well the pressures and expectations that would instantly placed upon him—Benitez is the perfect manager for Chelsea given their current tumultuous climate.
First of all, he fits the bill of what Roman Abramovich wants.
He has won the UEFA Champions League before.
In 2005, the then-Liverpool boss clinched the European title with the Reds—proving that he has what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
But look at the game itself, and you'll see that what Benitez represents is far more than a trophy to sit in a room; the 52-year-old is an image and an icon for self-belief and confidence that can lead to success in even the most dire of circumstances.
That 2005 Champions League final was not all plain sailing for the Merseyside club either, with Liverpool fighting back from 3-0 down to win on penalties.
A lesser club might have given in; a lesser club might have just assumed that this wasn't their night, and that they would live to fight another day.
But not Benitez. He would fight and lead the Reds back to one of the more stunning and remarkable victories in recent European history.
That heart and self-belief is what the manager cultivates at clubs and it's what he brings to Chelsea—a club that desperately needs both of those things.
Now some will be quick to point to Benitez's reign at Inter Milan and state that this "calming influence" that we are discussing here was not evident.
They will point to his failings, his stuff-ups and his ability to turn a champion team southward very quickly are not confidence-instilling things for Blues fans. And if we simply glance at the numbers for his time at Milan then yes, it was a monumental failure.
But look closely at what actually happened at the Italian club.
At first glance, his experience could not have been worse—with James Tyler at ESPN calling it a "disastrous and brief tenure." He failed to get the results and arguably didn't even get the best out of the players that he was trying to manage.
However, as Antony Kastrinakis at The Sun points out:
Rafa Benitez can be a Chelsea success as he does not have to sign any players—thankfully for the Blues, they are already there.
Rafa has hopefully learned that at times, he can be an exceptional coach, but he is a hit-and-miss manager.
In other words—poor at building teams, good at coaching them.
Chelsea do not need to sign any more players—they already have a very strong squad with one of the most potent attacks in Europe.
Juan Mata, Oscar, Frank Lampard, Victor Moses—these are all players that would be superstars were they at different clubs. And Benitez has the luxury of having a fantastic squad at his disposal; he does not need to bring in anything new, he just needs to build what he already has.
Which is exactly what Benitez is best at doing.
And it's exactly why he is the right man for the job at Chelsea—he can continue to build and sustain strong players, giving them the much-needed confidence boost that they can indeed rebound from the frustrations and letdown of the past month or so.
For many Chelsea fans, that will start with Fernando Torres.
The Spanish international striker—whether Blues fans like it or not—is always a great representation of where the West London club are at. If he is firing, then the club is usually firing; if he is slumping, then the club are also usually spluttering along.
If someone could turn Torres around and reignite him as one of the most dominant strikers in world football—which he once was—then Chelsea can be a success this year. And out of all the managers available, what better man to make that happen than the 52-year-old Benitez.
El Nino netted 56 goals in 79 appearances under Benitez at Liverpool, but has only managed 20 since making his big-money move to Chelsea.
If any manager is going to reignite Torres' goal-scoring spree, then it will be the Blues' latest man, whom the striker trusts and is confident that the will succeed under. Look at what the he has to say about his former manager (per The Daily Mail):
Rafa Benitez has been the most important coach in my career.
It wasn’t easy for me to leave Atletico [Madrid], come to England and play in a much faster game that is more dynamic and physical than La Liga. Rafa has been the only one who knew how to help me improve.
His priority is the team but he adapts the conditions to make everyone fit in the team. That’s his secret...
The confidence that Torres has under Benitez is key, for many of his maligned performances have been put down to a lack of confidence or self-belief.
Now, with Benitez, the confidence will be back and the goals could follow.
No other manager can bring that claim to the table except Benitez, and it's why the 52-year-old is the perfect man for the Stamford Bridge job.
Out of the options available, Benitez was the right choice for Chelsea.
He is not the greatest or the most successful manager in the history of the English Premier League. He has made plenty of mistakes in the past that have caused frustration amongst fans and he is bound to do the same at the West London club at some point this season.
But, considering what the Blues currently have and what they currently need, there is no better man that they could have chosen than Benitez.
Chelsea won't win the Champions League this year; heck, they might not win the English Premier League or even the Carling Cup this season either.
Benitez might not have the job in six months time and the carousel ride of being a Chelsea manager will spin around for another crazy few days.
Yet even if all that happens, the 52-year-old manager will still have calmed a volatile and fragile club, he will have gotten the respect of the players and officials once more, and he will have proven that Chelsea are still a force to be reckoned with in world football.
Is Rafa Benitez the right man for the job?
Abramovich most likely picked Benitez because he's won the Champions League, but in reality, he could not have picked a more perfect man to manage the culture and current situation of his most prized possession in the world.
He can calm the team; he can grow the players; he can sustain the club; he can still make Chelsea a dominant force in Europe this season.
Chelsea fans shouldn't worry too much about the "Spanish waiter" or the future of their beloved club. Forget also that the firing of Roberto Di Matteo after a decidedly average run of form is unfair or ill-timed.
Maybe it's best if all involved put the acrimony and anger to one side and simply face the music and dance. Who cares when the song might stop?
Rafa Benitez is the right man for the job at Chelsea—hopefully the next six months both on and off the pitch will prove that to be true.
What do you think about Chelsea hiring Rafa Benitez?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre
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