Rafa Benitez: Right to Criticize Chelsea and Fans, but He Brought It on Himself

Michael LingbergCorrespondent IIIFebruary 28, 2013

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Rafael Benitez of Chelsea during the FA Cup with Budweiser Fifth Round match between Middlesbrough and Chelsea at Riverside Stadium on February 27, 2013 in Middlesbrough, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Rafael Benitez, the interim manager with Chelsea Football Club, is in an impossible situation. 

Every time he shows himself at Stamford Bridge—or at away games for that matter—there are Chelsea fans who constantly make their displeasure about Benitez known. 

It's as if he's surrounded by a group of Chelsea supporters blowing raspberries directed at him at all times. 

While this is an unfortunate situation for any person to be in, Benitez brought it upon himself. He invited everything that's being aimed at him at the moment.

What else would you expect from a man, who at the time was the Liverpool manager, who said these things about Chelsea in 2007?

Chelsea is a big club with fantastic players, every manager wants to coach a such a big team, but I would never take that job, in respect for my former team at Liverpool, no matter what. For me there is only club in England, and that’s Liverpool.

We don’t need to give away flags for our fans to wave – our supporters are always there with their hearts, and that is all we need. It’s the passion of the fans that helps to win matches – not flags.

Benitez should have expected nothing less than what he's getting at Stamford Bridge. His past association with Liverpool and taunting jabs at Chelsea have made him as unwelcome as anyone among Chelsea fans. 

But if Benitez disrespected Chelsea like that, why would he actually want to be the manager of that same club some six years later? An even more important question would be this: why did Roman Abramovic agree to hire him? 

It's a wonder how Chelsea has been so successful despite all the constant distractions. Stamford Bridge truly is a three-ring circus and so much credit has to be given to the players for persevering through the kind of unstable turnover year after year that would cripple any other club. 

Benitez has proven he's a great manager, but shouldn't his past make him off limits? What was Abramovic trying to accomplish with this hire? If anything, this situation proves how undesirable the position of Chelsea manager is. Whoever is in charge at the time has no idea what's going on or how long he'll have at the club. It's just not a good place to work.  

But at the same time, Benitez is right for defending himself against these attacks. After Chelsea's 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the FA Cup, he went on a rant about how Chelsea supporters need to focus on their team, not him. From The Telegraph:

In the end, they are not doing any favours to the club, to the rest of the fans and to the players.

But if a group of fans continue with their agenda and they continue not supporting the team and wasting time with these things, it's their decision, but they are not doing any favours to the team, to the club, anyone.

Benitez is right. Chelsea fans at each match must focus on what's truly important: how their own team performs against the opposition. If they really want their team to win, just support the players.

And what's the point of coming to a match just to boo the manager? You're stuck with him for another couple months, so ignore him and put all your efforts into the actual game. 

There's fault on both sides of this situation. Neither Benitez or the fans or Abramovic deserve all the blame for this debacle. But each group deserves some of the blame.

Let this be a lesson: don't create a bad work environment, don't say things that will come back to haunt you later and always keep the big picture in mind:

Football is king, and that's all that matters.