To say that Rafael Benitez is not a popular Chelsea manager is somewhat of an understatement. Not only did he replace the man who won the Blues their first-ever Champions League, but he also first rose to prominence with a Liverpool team that developed a fierce rivalry with Chelsea and contributed to it with some comments that Chelsea supporters did not forget.
But does he deserve all of the hate? Now seems as good of a time as ever to take a look at his time as interim manager with Chelsea and assign him a grade.
To better decide, we will look at three main aspects of his managerial reign and assign grades to each one.
Benitez's team selections have been hit and miss so far, but the real test of a manager is often how much you can change a game using substitutions. In this area, Benitez has really struggled. He suffers due to his insistence on not making a substitution before 70 minutes.
Some of his tactical decisions have paid off, such as the way he has helped Victor Moses flourish, but others, such as his decision to leave Juan Mata out against Newcastle last month, have cost Chelsea important results.
Benitez has a win percentage of just 50 percent at Chelsea. For a club of this caliber, this is not good enough. They have also crashed out of the League Cup and lost some important games that have put the Premier League title out of reach.
At this point, it would probably take nothing short of a miracle for Rafael Benitez to be handed the Chelsea job permanently, so his long-term impact will probably be minimal. During his reign, Demba Ba was brought to the club, and Ashely Cole was handed a contract extension, but it seems unlikely that he had much to do with either decision. Much of his long-term impact will be decided once we know whether the Blues will be playing Champions League football next season.
Grade: To be determined
Benitez has had a few opportunities to silence his critics, but has been mostly unable to take them. He had the chance to swoop in and rescue Chelsea, but he didn't take it. His time at Chelsea has been underwhelming. He is still a good manager, and he has managed to maintain Chelsea's league position. But when it comes down to it, he is not the right man for the job on a permanent basis.
Overall Grade: D