Timeline of Rafa Benitez's Tenure at Chelsea

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterFebruary 28, 2013

Timeline of Rafa Benitez's Tenure at Chelsea

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    The tumultuous tenure of Rafa Benitez reached new heights after Chelsea's 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough on Wednesday.

    The Spaniard exploded on radio, and we look back at his three-month experience at Stamford Bridge by picking out the key points. Some are good, but it's mostly bad.

    Enjoy the slideshow—or try to.

Appointment

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    Hours after Chelsea's poor showing in Turin, where the Blues lost 3-0 to Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, Roman Abramovich sacked fan favourite Roberto Di Matteo.

    It didn't take the Russian long to act. He appointed Rafa Benitez as interim manager.

    The former Liverpool tactician, who openly slighted Chelsea as a club during his tenure in Merseyside, wasn't exactly well received. You can understand why.

First Home Game

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    Rafa Benitez's first game in charge was a dour 0-0 against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.

    The Spaniard was greeted by a chorus of boos and thousands of signs expressing the fans' discontent with what their owner had done.

    It was an edgy 90 minutes, and with the Blues not pulling up any trees on the pitch, the home faithful were left far from impressed. 

Losing to Corinthians

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    The FIFA Club World Cup was bittersweet for Chelsea fans.

    In the semifinal against Monterrey, Rafa Benitez made the move we've wanted to see for years—David Luiz to midfield. It worked an absolute treat and the Spaniard gained some temporary admiration.

    However, the final saw a lifeless, limp performance by the Blues and Corinthians lifted the trophy after a 1-0 win. It was the first time since 2006 that the European representatives failed to win the competition. 

Destroying Aston Villa

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    Returning from Japan, the pressure was on.

    Home form was bad and an Aston Villa side that had just beaten Liverpool 3-1 at Anfield were due for a visit.

    Fans were apprehensive, but what followed was an 8-0 destruction that ranks up with the most one-sided games in the history of football.

    A turning point? 

Dropping Points

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    Unfortunately not.

    Chelsea managed only a short spell of form before receding into a team that looked like dropping out of the top four.

    Wins against Norwich and Everton were cherished, but a home loss to bottom club and rivals Queens Park Rangers reignited the rage. 

    A two-goal lead over Southampton and Reading was blown, at Brentford they struggled to draw and gave up two winning positions at St. James' Park. 

Dropping out of the Cup

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    A cup is a cup. Any team is disappointed to be knocked out of a cup competition, even if it is the Capital One Cup.

    Chelsea reached the semifinal and faced Swansea over two legs, but fell 2-0 at home courtesy of goals from Michu and Danny Graham.

    A dour 0-0 at the Liberty—which included the Eden Hazard-ball boy fiasco—sent the Blues packing, and the Swans went on to smash Bradford City 5-0 in the final and lift the cup. 

The Explosion

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    It was odd that Rafa Benitez picked the moments after a solid 2-0 away win in the FA Cup to explode.

    But that's what happened.

    On BBC Five Live radio (via Goal.com), he expressed his dismay at a number of things, namely his interim management tag and the fans' "agenda" against him.

    He warned the supporters to get behind the team or else expect UEFA Europa League football next season.

    Who's to blame? Did fan pressure destroy his chances before he even began, or was it simply Roman Abramovich who made another glaring error by appointing a man with previous in the first place?