Following his third straight match in charge without a win, the calls for Rafa Benitez to be fired as Chelsea manager were coming in thick and fast.
"Rafa's Revolution in Tatters," read the Daily Mail.
"Chelsea Boss Benitez Singing the Blues," said the Daily Mirror.
I even caught myself genuinely asking the question on Twitter as to whether Benitez would last to the end of the season amidst the chants of "sacked in the morning" and "one Di Matteo" that rang out from the gleeful Upton Park crowd.
Yet, despite the calls for his head (as understandable as they might be), the reality is that firing Rafa Benitez won't change a single thing for Chelsea this season.
See, at one level, you could nearly go as far as to say that the current problems on the field for Chelsea are nothing compared to what is taking place off it.
After all, any team can deal with two draws and a loss—that in itself is not an issue. The issue becomes a problem when they don't think that the club is traveling in the right direction and that they don't think the man in charge is capable of putting them back in the right direction.
So with Benitez, they fire him, right?
After all, Di Matteo won the FA Cup and the Champions League, and yet, he was punted for a couple of bad games, so why shouldn't Benitez be ousted as well?
Firing Benitez, in the mind of Roman Abramovich and Chelsea supporters, might seem like the logical decision to make for failing to perform. And going off the terrible precedence that Abramovich has set for himself, you actually can't argue with the logic. By that logic, Benitez should go.
But firing him won't change the problem that currently exists because, at the end of the day, Chelsea don't want Benitez for what he represents. They can't get on board with him as the boss, given what has taken place off the field.
Benitez stands as the representation for Abramovich's trigger-happy finger on Di Matteo—a completely unjust and moronic move by the Russian billionaire.
It is not the Spaniard himself who has usurped Di Matteo, and judging by his comments about the fact he doesn't consider himself "100 percent safe" as the manager of the club (per The Telegraph), he clearly knows that he is merely a pawn in the almost sadistic game of chess that Abramovich is playing with the West London club that he controls.
He [Benitez] is an easy target, unwanted by the fans because of comments he made about them during his Anfield days, and because of resentment over the treatment of Di Matteo. Benítez can hardly be blamed for accepting a lucrative, short-term contract by the champions of Europe.
The real target of the fans’ ire should be Abramovich.
It is the Russian who ludicrously dismissed Di Matteo, who decided that Chelsea would do better under a man that the fans reviled.
Firing Benitez won't change anything, for would he go, the club would simply get another manager in who won't win them the Champions League or the Premier League and they would be back where they started—with nothing other than Abramovich.
The dream of firing Benitez and going after former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola would be nothing more than a "Tim Tebow" reaction to a problem—a move that won't work out in the long term and one that the former Barca boss is unlikely to accept anyway.
Really, there's no way that Pep is coming mid-season to a club that would have fired two managers in as many months. He's not even close to be stupid enough to put up his hand to take that coaching gig, so you can rule out him for the time being.
And when you rule Pep out, the reality is that Chelsea will be no better off without Benitez than they were with Benitez, because Abramovich is still there.
Fire Benitez, don't fire Benitez—the problem is still the same because the real issues at work here are bigger than the man currently in charge of what happens on the field. They're about what happens off the field, and that's something that the Spaniard will never be able to change.
Chelsea don't want Benitez because he isn't Di Matteo.
They want their old boss back and are taking out their frustration and anger about a decision Abramovich made on their new manager. They're abusing the postman because they don't like the contents of the letter that he just delivered.
Stop abusing the postman, Chelsea, for it isn't doing you any favors.
You don't have to like the contents of the letter, but if you're going to get angry about it all, there really isn't any point in shooting the messenger.
Read to the end of the letter and you'll see the real problem.
Signed, Roman Abramovich.
Is Roman Abramovich or Rafa Benitez the cause of Chelsea's problems?
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