Skip to content

How can Rafa Benítez represent Chelsea after a rant like this?

Feb 27, 2013, 7:05 PM EDT

This type of rant has come to define Rafa Benítez. The last time we heard one, his Inter Milan side had just beaten Conglese club TP Mazembe in the Club World Cup. It was an occasion when he chose not to celebrate players’ achievements but to deride detractors who had criticized his management of the club. Less than a week later, Benítez was done, Leonardo was brought in, and Inter — the reigning league, cup, and European champions — salvaged a Champions League spot in Italy.

These missives became common in Benítez’s final day at Liverpool. Whether he was hitting out at Manchester United, Chelsea, Alex Ferguson or Liverpool’s owners, Benítez used his limited successes as reason to roll out his resumé and justify his greatness. Now that resumé, a distinguished one that includes a Champions League title, is in danger of becoming an afterthought in the story of a man whose career was undone by a lack of humility.

Today, Chelsea won at Middlesbrough 2-0 in the FA Cup. Boro is a second-tier club in England. The win was more obligatory than triumphant, but in an act of farce, Benítez used the opportunity to make a statement to Chelsea fans. Those banners you make? The dissent you offer? The frustration you have that your club replaced an icon (Roberto Di Matteo) with me, somebody who faded at Liverpool before failing at Inter? All of that is completely unjustifiable, in his eyes.

Welcome to sports, Mr. Benítez. Fans voice their displeasure, especially when the team you inherited is struggling to maintain its Champions League position after showing sights of title contention at the beginning of the season. The team was too flawed to maintain that pursuit, but since being brought in November, it’s unclear Benítez has done anything to improve the team. Having been pulled into a fight for their top four lives, all indications hint they’re worse.

I can only assume Benítez doesn’t realize this; else, he wouldn’t have given this speech. Until Benítez accomplishes something at Stamford Bridge, he has no basis for saying fan criticism is unjustified. And based on the “stupid plastic flags” jab he lobbed at Chelsea fans while managing Liverpool, he can’t expect the benefit of the doubt. If he does, he’s delusional.

But Benítez’s is a strange, self-defined world where none of his failures impact his image. To him, he’s the guy that won titles in Spain. He’s the man who won Champions League at Liverpool. Every opportunity he gets, he reminds us of his greatness, just as he did today. Chelsea fans should have welcomed him as a savior instead of a man of last resort.

In his mind, he’s not the guy that lost Liverpool’s top four spot, something from which the Reds have yet to recover. He’s not the man who ran José Mourinho’s Inter Milan squad into the ground. And he’s not the man who has failed to make any progress with one of the richest squads in the world.

This is a team that still has Petr Cech. They have Ashley Cole and David Luiz. There are players like Juan Mata and Eden Hazard in attack, as well as the slew of complementary pieces you’d expected when you’re coaching one of the most affluent clubs in the world. Do all the pieces fit? Perhaps not, but when you’re a man of Benítez’s self-appointed status, surely you can whip up something. No man worth the resumé he keeps repeating would let this club drift this far off course.

As much as any fans have a right to complain, Chelsea’s do. And as much as any manager in the world should have refrained from using a 2-0 victory over a lower-level side as a platform for outrage, Benítez should have.

Today’s rant is the strangest moment in the now absurd career of Rafa Benítez. Roman Abramovich should reconsider whether he wants this to be the face of his club, even if it’s only for three more months.

Latest Posts
  1. James Rodriguez to be unveiled by Real Madrid on Tuesday, join club for U.S. tour

    Jul 22, 2014, 12:10 AM EDT

    Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates after scoring during the group C World Cup soccer match between Japan and Colombia at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) AP

    22-year-old will complete his $108 million move and be introduced at the Santiago Bernabéu.

  2. Swansea set to sign Sigurdsson, Montero, see Davies, Vorm leave for Tottenham

    Jul 21, 2014, 11:09 PM EDT

    Gylfi-Sigurdsson-Tottenham-vs-Watford_2811248

    A Davies-for-Sigurdsson swap and the purchase of the Ecudorian winger will give Garry Monk a glut of options in attacking midfield.

  3. Yaya Touré, David Silva named to Manchester City’s Champions Cup squad

    Jul 21, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT

    Toure Getty Images

    While six World Cup stars will miss the tour, the Citizens still bring a talented squad to the U.S.

  4. Xavi Hernández reportedly inching closer to New York City FC

    Jul 21, 2014, 9:25 PM EDT

    FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA

    The Spanish midfielder is expected to return to Spain this week to finalize his departure from the club.

  5. ACL surgery ends Hendry Thomas’s season in Dallas

    Jul 21, 2014, 7:58 PM EDT

    hendry_thomas Getty Images

    Honduran midfielder will miss six to eight months.

  6. New report kicks off another round of Las Vegas expansion talk for MLS

    Jul 21, 2014, 6:51 PM EDT

    Las Vegas

    Group is pushing for a $160-$200 million venue, claiming to be on MLS’s “short list.”

  7. Gedion Zelalem getting his chance to impress with Arsenal’s first team

    Jul 21, 2014, 5:22 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Galatasaray - Emirates Cup Getty Images

    The 17-year-old potential U.S. international played along side Aaron Ramsey and About Diaby on Saturday.

  8. PST’s Major League Soccer Player of the Week: Sporting Kansas City’s Benny Feilhaber

    Jul 21, 2014, 4:32 PM EDT

    sporting_kc Getty Images

    How does a player who snared four goals in two games miss out? Robbie Keane came up just short.

  9. Qatar/Russia World Cup bidding investigation delayed until September

    Jul 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    interim logo interim logo

    The findings were due in late July, but will have to wait. Will Qatar and Russia hold onto their World Cup hosting duties?

  10. Report: Bayern Munich confirms Julian Green on first team for US trip

    Jul 21, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Julian Green AP

    Those in New Jersey and Portland could see a whole lot of Julian Green in the next couple weeks.

  11. VIDEO: Steven Gerrard’s top five goals for England

    Jul 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    England midfielder Steven Gerrard attend Getty Images

    Relive five of Stevie G’s best goals over his 14-year England career.

  12. WATCH: Arsenal attempts New York accents; Flamini is really bad at it

    Jul 21, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

    Arsenal will be without defensive stalwart, Mathieu Flamini, for Saturday's match against Liverpool. Getty Images

    An amusing video of NYC accents atop the US national anthem gives Arsenal a victory in viral video.

  13. Who should be England’s new captain? Here’s the top five contenders…

    Jul 21, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    England's Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the group D World Cup soccer match between Uruguay and England at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) AP

    Will Wazza take the armband from Stevie G? Not so fast, there are some other chaps to contemplate first…

  14. Liga MX wrap: Red cards a-plenty as road teams shine

    Jul 21, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Mexico Soccer AP

    No goals for Americans south of the border, but there was plenty of actions as the 2014 Apertura took its first steps.

  15. Sporting Kansas City declare themselves “greatest team in MLS”… Are they?

    Jul 21, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    sporting_kc Getty Images

    What makes an MLS franchise great? Who is the greatest? Is there a right or wrong answer?

  16. Report: Dunga to be named Brazil’s new manager

    Jul 21, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT

    Carlos Dunga

    Former World Cup winning captain to be handed the reins for second time in four years.

  17. Stuart Holden joins NBC crew to call midweek MLS clash

    Jul 21, 2014, 12:59 PM EDT

    Twitter.com/StuHolden Twitter.com/StuHolden

    “Football at Fenway” will have a fine follow-up, as American international Holden joins the doubleheader broadcast of San Jose and Chicago from Buck Shaw Stadium.

  18. Why would Chelsea want to re-sign Didier Drogba?

    Jul 21, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT

    Germany Soccer Champions League Final

    Will Drogba return to Stamford Bridge this summer?

  19. Juventus sign Patrice Evra from Manchester United

    Jul 21, 2014, 11:24 AM EDT

    Evra Getty Images

    Another veteran departs Old Trafford, as Evra signs for Juventus.

  20. Steven Gerrard retires from international soccer after glittering England career

    Jul 21, 2014, 10:29 AM EDT

    England and Liverpool skipper Gerrard is the finest midfielder of his generation Getty Images

    After 14 years playing for the Three Lions, Gerrard calls it quits.