Here I said it, thank you Rafael Benitez.

European champions, again.
European champions, again.

The story of that one hell of a season, an absolute roller-coaster. When we lost to Juventus, I remember I tweeted ” a loss to Manchester City and RDM’s out”. A couple of hours later, Robbie got sacked because “the Board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction”, I was inconsolable. It was a harsh decision for me, but you know, Roman… And then came the tremendous shock: ”Chelsea Football Club can confirm Rafael Benitez has been appointed interim first-team manager until the end of the season.”

When we appointed Rafa, the guy who insulted our club and fans while he was at Liverpool, I felt betrayed. Yes betrayed, and I mean it. He got an awful reception throughout most of his time at Chelsea and of course he was nowhere near to be accepted by the fans, and I belive, the old guard too. Anyway, now as Benitez is closing on a departure, I must admit that he’s done a good job. Yes, this is an appreciation article for Rafa. He’s done a good job, maybe in a dramatic fashion, but he’s got his mission done. And to be fair, he’s a man of steel. This is how I analyse what he’s done for our club during that period.

1) Huge pressure, insane.

When Rafa signed that contract, he knew exactly what he was going for. While at Liverpool, his famous rant towards the Chelsea fans has been always stuck in the back of our heads.“We don’t need to give away stupid plastic flags to our fans to wave, our supporters are always there with their hearts and that is all we need. Its the passion of the fans that helps us to win matches, not flags. Chelsea fans lack passion.”
Before even taking charge of his first game, the ‘Rafa Out’ banners were hanged everywhere and the fans didn’t stop abusing him (Middlesbrough as an example). First of all, he has handled himself with dignity, was respectful towards the players and the fans throughout his interim reign at Stamford Bridge. Everybody was abusing him, but he was smiling all the time. Simply, he was trying to do his job. This is a point that we can’t deny, the pressure was huge. Just imagine yourself working under all that pressure, put yourself in his place. I wasn’t simply a fan of the Rafa out campaign because we had no other option, we had to stick with him till the end of the season. The biased English media as usual has made him the victim, the Chelsea supporters’ image was a bit deteriorated. But no matter what the media was saying at that time, we get emotionally attached to our club. When someone insults Chelsea, he’s simply insulting us. This is exactly why we reacted that way, but that was clearly not the smartest option as it’s started to affect the players, and the results.

2) The complete turning point

This is where it all began, the Middlesbrough rant, which was the best thing that he’s done during his time here. Let’s skip the part where he showed that he was unhappy with the interim manager title. The most important part of his rant was this: “A group of fans, they are not doing any favours for the team when they are signing and wasting time preparing banners. “… “They have to concentrate on supporting the team, that’s what they have to do. If we cannot achieve what we expect to achieve, that is to be in the top four and be in the Champions League for next year, I will leave; they will stay in the Europa League. They have to take responsibility too. If they put players under pressure, they don’t create a good atmosphere at Stamford Bridge, they have to realise they are making a big mistake because the rest of the fans would like to see the team in the Champions League next year. It would be much better for everyone to have a good atmosphere and supporting the team, backing the players, and that’s it.”. I don’t know if we got scared when he sayed that we’ll stay in the Europa league if we don’t support the team and forget about him, but the atmosphere at the Bridge has clearly changed since then. And on my behalf, I agree with him when he moaned about the interim manager title, maybe the players don’t respect him because of this, maybe they don’t care about the way they perform because they know that we’ll only blame him in the end. But in my opinion, that rant was really smart. To be fair, I raped my H5 button the next day because I thought that he was going to be dismissed by Roman and co. Even when we played WBA next, I thought he was going to get shot in the head by the fans, but it was the complete opposite. We sang our heart out for the team. But credit where it’s due, that was smart.
But then later on, things started to move in a positive way and Rafa was actually getting the respect and appreciation that he deserves.

3) Rafa and the skills.

This is exactly why I’ll spend the rest of my life thanking Rafa: David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta.

David Luiz, Sideshow bob : Rafa, from day one, believed in Luiz’s abilities“I’m aware David Luiz is one of the best players in the Premier League by miles. Miles away from a lot of players, one of the best no doubt.” . He has transformed him from a player who’s “controlled by a 10-year-old in the crowd on a Playstation.” (Thanks to our beloved Gary Neville) to a key figure in both defense and midfield, a match winner, a game changer and a future Chelsea captain. He believes that he’s one of the best in the premier league (and he is actually), he has developed immensely under him and will only become better in the future. I’ll forever thank Rafa for having the guts to introduce Luiz in midfield, as it has worked brilliantly. And we also have to mention that he doesn’t always score, but when he does, he makes sure that it’s a STUNNER! ( Basel and Fulham, both goals nominated for the Goal of season award). Even with free-kicks, at the beginning of the season we didn’t usually like him to take them because we knew that it’s gonna end up catching with Ramos’ penalty. Now, it’s known as the Geezer’s territory.

Cesar Azpilicueta, DAVE: Dave has been one of the most consistent RBs in the premier league this season, his performance against Tottenham was his best in a Chelsea shirt (I guess Bale’s still in his back pocket, we should check though). He nearly got game time with RDM, but with Rafa, he was challenging for Ivanovic’s place and started ahead of him in a bunch of games. He became one of the key figures in our starting lineups this season. Even Del Bosque gave him his first debut vs Uruguay in February, playing the full 90 minutes. At the age of 23, Dave has his whole career in front of him and he’ll only keep getting better and better. And this season, he’s definitely been one of the best RBs in the BPL. That’s what Del Bosque thinks about him “Azpilicueta is playing many games for Chelsea. He has a lot of energy, defends well and is always willing to attack. We have a lot of hope for him.”

These, in my opinion, are the positives of Rafa Benitez’s Stamfrod Bridge reign. Let’s not mention the negatives anyway.
One last point, when Rafa came his job was to win the maximum of games to be able to get to our targets. He’s done a very tough job given the circumstances that surrounded him and also that he was working with a terribly thin squad that he barely knows anything about it.. He didn’t have enough time to make them adapt to his strategies. That’s why by the end of the season, things started to look a bit better, the rotation seemed to work and he came up with a couple of good lineups for the different games. He just needed time to make things work out, and we didn’t give him that. But with time, things got a lot better. And on the other hand, he’s been extremely professional, which made us respect him more by the end of the season and actually appreciate what he’s done. He put emotions aside.

– Well I think we can now say goodbye and thank you to Rafa. For me, he’s done a good job in a pretty dramatic fashion. We won the Europa league and on course to finish third. Although he didn’t apologize to the Chelsea fans about what he’s said about us while he was with Liverpool, but the abuse was a bit exaggerated from our part in my opinion. Anyway, our targets have been met and we’ll bid him farewell soon. And hopefully the best is yet to come (Yes, Jose Mourinho).

PS: Rafa I guess you’re allergic to subs, you should definitely be fixing that to be successful anywhere in the world. And if you want, you can take Yossi with you. We’d all be happy.

If you have any comments, leave them below! 🙂

  1. Hardeyphemmy007 says


    1. malakhassouna says

      Thank you! 😀

  2. Anonymous says

    azpilicueta has being a aweomse player for the club but he’s given away as i remember 3 penalties? in about half a season as he didnt really play any game under RDM… need to fix that and he will be the best RB in the world

    1. malakhassouna says

      Keep in mind that this is his first season in England, he needs time to adapt to the rhythm of the games and the intensity. He’ll keep on getting better and better I’m sure

    2. says

      Well put, sir, well put. I’ll certainly make note of that.

  3. Eduardo G. says

    I couldn’t agree more. Just to be more accurate on Rafa’s job, I may add a couple of thoughts:

    The fist one: We actually do not have any certainty on the team’s shape under Di Matteo at the beginning of the season. If I could describe that period of the year it would be by saying “inconsistent”; it is true that we had a good streak at the league, but lets not forget the shameful exhibition in the super cup against Atlético and the poor form in the group stage of the Champions League, which lead us to play the Europa League. It is a toss to guess what would have happened if Roberto had more time, but I am quite sure that t some point the team would struggle even more than how they did under Rafa.

    Second: It is a fact that Chelsea is the team that played the most game in the season in the world and it is also a fact that the squad turned out to be very narrow (due to some ununderstandable loan-transfer decisions: De Bruyne, Lukaku, Marin, Benayoun??). It is really needed some sort of high profile managing skills to rotate the squad in the way that Rafa did. I can really say that despite the tremendous amount of matches that the team played, they always seemed quite fresh.

    Third: To those who say that the Europa League is some kind of useless trophy that “nobody wants to win”, should I suggest that last season Manchester United experienced elimination form Champions League at the group stage leaded to Europa League where they did the fool out of them. The same thing with Manchester City. So… we took the good from the bad.


    1. malakhassouna says

      Well in my opinion, Roman never liked RDM. Or to be more precise, he never believed that he was the right man for the job. He gave him the 2 year-contract because he felt like he had to when he won the CL. The best thing about RDM is his connections with the players and his ability to motivate them. But Rafa also motivated the players in a way, they felt sorry for him at the latter stages of the season, they felt like their performances might ease the pressure. But I believe he’s done a good job, and we have to give him a good goodbye standing ovation on Sunday.

  4. Matt says

    Very good article! CFC fans have to appreciate Rafa’s job. So professional and constantly under pressure. Congratulations Rafa, great manager! Thank you.

    1. malakhassouna says

      Thank you! Yeah definitely, he had a very tough job but he got it done under horrendous pressure!

  5. malakhassouna says

    In my last point I meant he was extremely PROFESSIONAL, just mistyped it

    1. dimatteofan says

      was just about to say that but I wanted to check through the comments in case someone already said it 😀 I’ll make sure that it will get edited ;]

      Great article. Nothing else to say. Sharing it on twitter right now.

      1. malakhassouna says

        Yeah I mistyped it haha. Thank you so much, glad you liked it

  6. Ken says

    Luv you rafa

    1. malakhassouna says

      We all love him haha

  7. alexcfc8 says

    I was not sure about Rafa but I was like lets give him a chance, he’s our manager and we should stick behind him until the end. I do think he should leave still though on a high

    1. malakhassouna says

      Same here, that was the only option really. He’s leaving anyway by the end of the season, we need to give him a good reception on Sunday

  8. Amponsah Charles says

    Blues for ever…
    We made history as well as Torres.

    1. malakhassouna says

      Torres was really good yesterday and he has improved a lot, I wish he stays like this

      1. carlosnafigueira says

        credit to Rafa also. bought him at his best and made him feared again by opposition. i am sad to see him leave

  9. Ashish Kamath says

    Rafa has done an excellent job! Players have improved under him as u rightly mentioned. If, God forbid, Mourinho doesnt return next season, I would love to see him continue here! His professionalism has been impressive and those who criticise him need to understand that its the number of games that we had to play this season which is partly due to which we didnt win more trophies! Anyways Thanks a lot Rafa and good luck!

    1. malakhassouna says

      Well I would like him to stay, but this won’t do any good to the club. the fans have been quieter now about the Rafa Out chants because we know that he’s leaving in a week or two. Apart from that, if he stays, I believe the Rafa Out chants and the abuse will be back to normal.

    2. Matt says

      Absolutely agree !

  10. -Frank- says

    thank u rafa 🙂 admire your inner strength despite protest from Blues fans. THUMBS UP!

    1. malakhassouna says

      Man of steel!

  11. Anonymous says

    What a nice article this is. Thanks to the writer

    1. malakhassouna says

      Thank you! And you’re welcome 🙂

  12. Anonymous says

    thumbs up… what an article… you said it all…

    turning point was definitely the rafa rant.. it silenced the critics up to a great extent….

    and the work he did has been tremendous… i cant see many managers who would have managed so many games with this squad and finished where he has… well done..

    1. malakhassouna says

      Thank you so much!
      Yeah he did a very good job with the thin squad and the atmosphere that he was put into. I wish him the best of luck wherever he goes next.

      1. Anonymous says

        keep on posting…

  13. Anonymous says

    Thanks Rafa

  14. owinopaul says

    Thanks Rafa

  15. Ibtihaj Ahmad says

    Thak u Rafa nd thakxx gain 4r bringing Torres back in form 🙂

  16. Akinola says

    He said chelsea fans should judge him by his success i think we are doing that now,i don’t like him for what he said toy dear team but i apprecaite the work he has done especially rotation of the team kudu to him.Thanks Rafa,on Torres love you for that,and i would have love you to stay but sorry the special one is coming but i would love you more if you can take your favourite player with you “YOSSI” thanks again.

    1. Malak Hassouna says

      The work he has done is incredible, giving the circumstances that he was put into. When he first came we took it a bit personal, but he handled himself with dignity that finally we were forced to respect him.He has also helped the development of a bunch of players

      1. Mariana says

        Sei un grande e rendi grdani noi che ti siamo amiciNon che mi creda gie0 un grande, ma si dice che un grande uomo e8 tale per la donna che e8 al suo fianco. Per me e8 ovviamente cosec, ma gli amici non sono da meno. Grazie per la tua presenza costante Raffa!

      2. says

        This is way more helpful than anything else I’ve looked at.

  17. carlosnafigueira says

    Last games of mourinho as chelsea manager:

    v Rosemborg (CL)1-1 draw september
    v Blackburn 0-0 (home) draw sept 15
    v Aston Villa (away) 0-2 defeat sept 2
    v Portsmouth 1-0 (Home) win August
    v Liverpool 1-1 (away) draw August
    v Reading 1-2 (away) win August
    v Birmingham 3-2 (home) win August 12 2007
    v Man U 1-1 lost 3-0 pens (C Shield)

    pre season
    v feyenoord 1-1 draw july 2007
    v Rangers 0-2 defeat

    v Everton 1-1(home) draw May 13 2007
    v Man U 0-0 (home) draw may
    v Arsenal 1-1 away (draw)
    v Liverpool 0-1 away (lost) 1-4 pens (CL) May 1 2007
    v Bolton 2-2 home (draw) April 28
    v Newcastle 0-0 away (draw) April 22 2007
    v Liverpool 1-0 home (win) CL

    1. Malak Hassouna says

      Well so you want to say that Mourinho’s a bad manager or what ?

      1. Open says

        GRANDE, sapevo che prima o poi quaunlco se ne accorgeva …. il talento non passa mai innoservato….GOOD LUCK….uaglif2Anche il tuo talento verre0 a galla, ne sono sicuro.Grazie Mauro!

      2. I really wish there were more articles like this on the web.

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