5 Ways Rafa Benitez Can Solidify His Job Status at Chelsea
It has been just over a month since Rafa Benitez took over the managerial position at Chelsea.
After getting off to a rocky start, where the Blues failed to win their first three games under the Spaniard, Benitez has righted the ship at Stamford Bridge.
There has been some positive signs that the Blues have grown under Benitez, but they failed to win the Club World Cup in Japan against Corinthians.
For Benitez to stay with the club after the end of the 2012-13 season, he will have to win a few, if not all, of the four competitions that the Blues are still involved in.
Winning championships is not the only thing Benitez can do to make sure he sticks around for the long haul at Stamford Bridge.
Here is a list of five things that Benitez needs to do to solidify his job status at Chelsea.
Keep Playing David Luiz in Midfield
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When midfielder Oriol Romeu went down with a season-ending knee injury earlier this month, Benitez needed to find a replacement for the Spaniard in the starting 11.
At the Club World Cup, Benitez employed defender David Luiz in Romeu's position and the Brazilian excelled in the defensive midfield of the 4-2-3-1 formation.
Luiz once again played in the defensive midfield on Sunday in the club's 8-0 romp of Aston Villa.
It seems as though Benitez has found a new midfield ace in Luiz—he should continue to use the Brazilian in the position with Romeu out injured and John Obi Mikel leaving for the African Cup of Nations in January.
Making important lineup decisions is one of the biggest decisions that a manager can make, and putting Luiz in Romeu's position seems to be a move that Benitez has gotten right, so far.
Keep the Old Guard Around Until the End of the Season
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The Chelsea transfer policy in the summer was to buy younger players and sell the members of the old guard.
The veterans who left Stamford Bridge in the summer included Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, while starlets like Oscar, Eden Hazard and Cesar Azpilicueta were brought into the club.
If Benitez were to let the veteran trio leave the club in January, it would leave the Blues with just two players, Petr Cech and seldom-used Paulo Ferreira, over 30 with title-winning experience in the EPL.
Letting the veteran players go while in contention for four potential titles would be a fatal mistake by Benitez.
With the valuable veteran leadership of these three players, Chelsea will have players in their squad that know how to win championships. These three veterans could also help push the young stars of the club further in their development.
Find a Viable Backup for Fernando Torres
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Torres has shown plenty of progression in the past month under Benitez, whom he worked with at Liverpool in the past, but the Blues need an insurance policy at the position.
While it is highly likely that Torres will remain in the lineup if he is healthy, Chelsea do not have a viable backup option at the forward position if the Spanish international does go down.
Currently on the depth chart behind Torres at the forward position are Victor Moses and Lucas Piazon.
The combination of Moses and Piazon will be not be good enough for Chelsea fans, but it could be good enough for Benitez.
Both players have shown flashes of brilliance when they have stepped on the pitch this season, and if Torres does go down with an injury, Benitez could turn to one of those two players to step up in Torres' place.
Do Not Recall Romelu Lukaku from His Loan at West Brom
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Many Chelsea fans believe that the club should recall forward Romelu Lukaku from his season-long loan at fellow EPL club, West Brom.
Bringing Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge in the middle of the season may be the stupidest decision Benitez will make while at the club.
Lukaku is developing more with every week he spends at West Brom and bringing him back from The Hawthorns early would stunt the development of the 19-year-old Belgian.
Lukaku is finally beginning to find excellent form at West Brom, he has scored a team-high six goals in the EPL this season, and the development of a young player is worth more than calling him back to provide a goal or two in garbage time at the end of a match.
There is no doubt that Lukaku will be a star at Stamford Bridge, but the first five months of 2013 will not be that time for the Belgian.
Win Every Competition in Which Chelsea Are Still Involved
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A Champions League and FA Cup double may not have been enough to keep Roberto di Matteo around at Chelsea, and two titles at the end of the season may not be enough for Benitez to permanently keep the Chelsea job either.
For Benitez to do all in his power to stay in charge at Stamford Bridge, he will have to take on the difficult task of winning four titles in one season.
The Blues are still involved in the Europa League, FA Cup, Capital One Cup and the English Premier League.
The Capital One Cup may be the easiest of the four to win with the Blues being the favorite to take home the crown out of the final four, which also includes Swansea City, Aston Villa and Bradford City.
The hardest competition to win for the Blues will be the Premier League, with Chelsea behind leaders Manchester United by 11 points.
Although it is unlikely for Benitez to lead the Blues to all four titles, winning them could be the only way to guarantee his position as Chelsea boss for next season.
What do you think Benitez needs to do to solidify his status at Chelsea?
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