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Fury Of Chelsea Supporters Should Be Directed At Roman Abramovich, Not Rafa Benitez

rafa out 600x425 Fury Of Chelsea Supporters Should Be Directed At Roman Abramovich, Not Rafa Benitez

At Stamford Bridge on Sunday, the booing and protest signs aimed at new Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez were misdirected. In Rafa’s first game in charge for the Blues, the man was simply trying to do his job. The anger and abuse should have been directed at Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich instead.

The decision by Abramovich to sack Roberto Di Matteo last week was a cold and hasty decision by the Russian owner. Di Matteo had stepped in last season during Chelsea’s time of need and had completely mended all of the issues that the team had. With Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea was heading to an early Champions League exit. But with Di Matteo, he turned the team around and got them playing to their best abilities, and then surprising everyone — including Chelsea supporters — by taking the team all the way, even past Barcelona, to win the ultimate club tournament trophy, the UEFA Champions League title.

Di Matteo’s Chelsea team stumbled in November against West Bromwich Albion (losing 2-1) and against Juventus (getting knocked out of the tournament by losing 3-0 in Turin). The team performed poorly in both matches, but I wouldn’t necessarily blame Di Matteo for the defeats. In the end, Di Matteo became the fall guy.

I totally understand the anger of Chelsea fans in Sunday’s game against Manchester City. They were upset that former Chelsea player Di Matteo had gotten the sack in a calendar year when the manager had helped the club win the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup. I get that. But to aim the abuse at Benitez who, in his first game in charge is trying to rescue Chelsea’s season, is misguided and irresponsible. If Chelsea fans should be angry at anyone, that anger should be directed at Roman Abramovich.

It was Abramovich who pulled the trigger. It was Abramovich who decided to bring in Rafa Benitez. It was Abramovich who has left a trail of destruction in his wake. The list sounds like a who’s who of the best managers in the business: Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Luis Felipe Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti and Andre Villas-Boas.

And now we can add Roberto Di Matteo to the list, a young and up-and-coming manager who fell victim to unreasonable expectations from his owner. Yes, it would have been lovely for Chelsea fans (and the owner) if the Blues could win the Champions League every season. But that’s the nature of sports. Sh*t happens. And in the case of Juventus versus Chelsea, deflections happen (two goals were a cause of it in Turin even though Juventus was, by far, the better team on the night).

Chelsea fans would do better if they stood up to Abramovich and raised some banners and signs that sent messages to the owner that they’re upset at his hasty decisions. That would send a stronger message than the ones we saw on Sunday that proclaimed “Rafa Out.”

While I can understand the outrage of the Chelsea fans, are the “Rafa Out” banners going to help the club or the team at all? What do Chelsea supporters really want? It’s not as if Abramovich is going to sack Benitez. Well, not at least yet. Not until the end of the season. So if Chelsea supporters want to see their team slide down the table, perhaps they should continue raising the “Rafa Out” banners? Or, instead, if they want to see better long-term decisions by the Chelsea owner, maybe they should think first and aim their fury at Abramovich instead.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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15 Responses to Fury Of Chelsea Supporters Should Be Directed At Roman Abramovich, Not Rafa Benitez

  1. Fernando says:

    Don’t think for a second the anger at Benitez isn’t also pointed at CFC.

    What’s the difference if Chelsea supporters lash out against Benitez instead of having a sign asking about Abramovich’s hasty decisions? More often than not he’s been proven right, as much as I have been against most of his sackings.

    Chelsea supporters have every right to dislike a man who criticized them and the club itself. If the club are ignoring all of this then it’s up to the supporters to make it known that they haven’t looked the other way.

    That’s what good supporters do.

    • dust says:

      a team with the mentality that showed such poor sportsmanship last week will have no problem whatsoever getting a draw so they and Juve go through, 1-1 the final or a 1-0 juve win.

  2. CTBlues says:

    Chelsea weren’t knocked out of the UCL yet, but moving on isn’t in our hands. If they win next week at the Bridge and Juve loose at Shakhtar we will come in second and move on.

  3. CTBlues says:

    Gaffer,

    How do you think Swansea fans would react to a former Cardiff boss that had criticized Swansea in the past came in to manage the Swans?

    • The Gaffer says:

      Chelsea-Liverpool is no comparison to Swansea-Cardiff. The rivalry between Swansea-Cardiff is much more intense. And Chelsea-Liverpool isn’t a derby.

      The things that Benitez said about Chelsea, while he was Liverpool manager, were over 5 years ago.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • dust says:

        RB’s comments were also in response to the master debater Jose Mourinho who attacked LFC fans first. CFC fans need to get over it, it’s not even as bad as when George Graham managed Spurs, which by the way was a nightmare ,an absolute nightmare that left me scared for quit a while, he WAS booed by Spurs. NOT by me, but by many off my friends.

        I dont see a problem with CFC fans booing, but not because I agree with it, because it effects the players and will continue to negatively effect their performances for as long as they do it. Which I am hoping continues leaving CFC out of the UCL and the top 6.

    • Guy says:

      haha. All hell would break loose. :-)

  4. Scrumper says:

    Chelsea supporters have every right to criticise their club’s actions. They put down their hard earned cash every week and without them the club wouldn’t exist regardless of Abramovitch’s billions. If suddenly no supporters (read customers) turned up at Stamford Bridge then he’d grab his wallet and be gone.

    It’s very clear he doesn’t care about the Chelsea fans, players, managers or probably anyone else to do with the game (including certain referees) that get in his way.

    Of course there is going to be backlash towards Benitez. Di Matteo was one of their own, a Chelsea player turned coach and manager who brought home the Champions League trophy. I don’t think it helps the situation that Benitez’ contract is only to the end of the season. A temporary appointment of an old enemy makes it all the more egregious to the fans. There is no doubt a large part of the demonstration against Benitez is the fans latently complaining about the way the club is being run.

  5. Clampdown says:

    I agree with you, Gaffer. But where would Chelsea be without Roman? His appointment of Benitez seemed like a bit of an up yours to the Chelsea supporters.

    As for Rafa, he’s got a right to work wherever he likes. But after the reception he got Sunday, perhaps he should reconsider if this is the type of club or supporters he wants to work for.

    • dust says:

      This may sound crazy, but I think RA regretted getting rid of AVB, yes they won the dream cup for RA but RA knows it was luck. AVB left CFC in 5th, RDM finished in 6th. The whole thing is just strange. especially the defensive issues.

      Wasn’t it RDM’s “Tactical Genius” that beat Barca and Bayern Munich with incredible defensive performances that didn’t have John Terry at the back after being suspended?

      RDM would have finished outside of the top 4, he doesn’t have the tactical nous to play attacking football AND have a solid defense. RA realized that and knows full well that without top 4 no way do they get Pep.

      Rafa is just desperate, 2 years out of work he jumped at the chance, he is kidding himself if he thinks he will stay longer than a season, all it takes is 4 poor results (draws and losses) in a row and he will be gone too!

  6. dust says:

    AVB thinks fans are entitled to boo..

    the following is an expert form and article on teamtalk,com following a AVB presser.

    http://www.teamtalk.com/tottenham-hotspur/8290055/AVB-Fans-are-entitled-to-boo?

    “Villas-Boas himself has been subjected to boos from some Spurs fans on occasion this season, but he insists supporters should be entitled to air their views if they think something is not right with their club.

    Villas-Boas, who was sacked by Chelsea after less than nine months in charge of the club, told a press conference: “The fans have the right to everything in my opinion.

    “They are the ones who breathe the biggest passion for the football club, they are the essence and they breathe the values of the football club.

    “They are entitled to whatever they want to say or chant; disappointment, belief, encouragement, positiveness.

    “It is all down to them, football is about them, it is about their passion. They have the right more than anybody to show that.

    “(As a manager) you have to take it. Sometimes we don’t like what we hear but that’s life.”

    Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has not suffered the same fate as Benitez and Wenger so far this season despite the Reds’ mixed start to the season.

    Rodgers, who signed a three-year deal at Anfield this summer, has only been able to guide Liverpool to 11th in the Premier League so far this season after a summer of upheaval on Merseyside.

    Rodgers allowed 11 of his players to leave in the transfer window and put his faith in a raft of promising youngsters like Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom and Spanish forward Suso.

    Villas-Boas will take on the Northern Irishman on Wednesday when Liverpool come to White Hart Lane and he is convinced both he and Rodgers will do well at their respective clubs because of the time they spent together under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.

    “I met Brendan on a coaching course,” the 35-year-old said.

    “I did not know we would cross paths again, but we did in 2004 when he was at Chelsea as a youth team coach.”

  7. Peter says:

    I don’t think you need to be a social psychologist to see that the feelings expressed about Di Matteo’s dismissal and Benitez’s appointment at Stamford Bridge last weekend were an implicit critique of Abramovich. Yet seeing as he’s the patron of the team, and has had so much influence over Chelsea’s success (as well as its failure) for almost a decade now, it’s not so surprising that there isn’t a full frontal assault on the owner. For better AND worse, this is how Abramovich does things, and Chelsea supporters know that. We’ll know a lot more about Benitez’s abilities and his longevity by the end of the weekend. If Fulham and West Ham prove too difficult to handle, it won’t get any easier for anyone involved. This won’t be one of Chelsea’s best seasons.

    • Andrei says:

      Last season it wasn’t any easier for Chelsea either. But it turned out to become one of their best seasons. CL and FA cup is not something to be sneezed at.

      • Peter says:

        I assure you I was applauding, not sneezing. But taking over in November and taking over in March are different things. You can’t lose players like Drogba (through departures) or Lamps and Terry (through injuries or worse) and expect all to go on as though nothing had changed. Chelsea may win the League Cup and get a top four finish this year, but even that won’t be easy. Unless January brings in a real striker and some muscle in the midfield, we’re looking at a rebuilding year.

  8. Jason says:

    The fact is that Chelsea fans cannot go after Abramovich because without him Chelsea would not be a top club. Chelsea fans know full well that despite all the firings, be it Mourinho or DiMatteo, the club always wins trophies.

    Chelsea fans are showing their ignorance by going after Benitez as if he hired himself.

    Those Chelsea fans who think DiMatteo is such a brilliant manager who should not have been fired should remember that he was fired at West Brom when he had them fighting relegation and that he won the FA Cup and Champions League with players he inherited. He deserves credit for the job he did last season but it was becoming increasingly obvious that Chelsea were beginning to decline with poor defensive performances, very much like his West Brom tenure, and that Roman felt it was time to act now before things got so bad that it would be difficult to turn things around later.

    Say what you will about Abramovich but he makes whatever change is needed to ensure Chelsea stay amongst the top clubs in the world even if it means losing money. He never thinks about how much it costs to make a change. This is something very few clubs can afford to do so Chelsea fans should be grateful they have an owner like Roman.

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