Vive la RAFAlution Benitez faces lonely task of turning Chelsea's stuttering season around
10:48 GMT, 30 November 2012
Every revolution begins with one man. One man who has a radical vision and a voice that is louder than the rest. The problem for Rafa Benitez is that nobody wants to listen.
The supporters hate him, the tactics are dull and the players still miss Roberto Di Matteo.
It seems nobody except Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is ready to join the Rafalution.
Man in the middle: Rafael Benitez (centre) faces an uphill struggle to get Chelsea back on course
Vive la Rafalution: The iconic poster of revolutionary Che Guevara
The first problem: the fans
Revolutions require excitement.
History points to charismatic leaders who reduced complicated politics to simplistic ideas. In football parlance it is ideas like tiki-taka. In society it is free love.
With Rafa, who knows Managers need a dose of self-assured defiance, but Benitez tips towards swaggering arrogance.
There are few things more irritating than a manager treating legitimate questions with undisguised contempt.
Too often, Benitez looks like he’s swallowed a wasp that was sucking a lemon. And that’s before the fans start singing.
Warm welcome: At both homes games, Benitez has been booed by his own fans
Frosty: Some supporters have taken banners to the games to express their discontent
The diehards in the Matthew Harding stand want their Chelsea back, not the man ridiculed as the ‘fat Spanish waiter’ in his previous life as Liverpool manager.
Now he’s here, supporters have had to endure successive goalless draws for the first time since September 2004 – when Jose Mourinho was only two months into the job.
Including his final game at Liverpool, Benitez has overseen three consecutive 0-0 draws in the Barclays Premier League.
One more and he will match the four-game feats of only Arsene Wenger (a surprise) and George Graham (surprise, surprise). Which brings us to…
The second problem: the tactics
Early signs suggest a flashback to the dull Italian football of the Nineties, without the solitary winning goal.
Benching the creative genius Juan Mata against Fulham and keeping the faith with a man who looks like the ghost of Fernando Torres was always going to invite the vitriol of the stands.
Chelsea are winless in six (not, of course, all Benitez’s fault) and seven points behind Manchester United.
Torres has not scored for nearly 11 hours of football and although Benitez was hailed on his arrival as the magical man manager who used to bring the best out of Torres, by all accounts it was the adoration of the Kop that nurtured the goals out of the well-meaning but now impotent Spaniard.
Return to form Benitez hopes to get Fernando Torres back in the goals
Swing and a miss: Torres has gone almost 11 hours without finding the back of the net for Chelsea
The final problem: the players.
When ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ John Terry cheekily inked the number 16 on his training top in defiant support of his sacked manager, it hardly screamed ‘Welcome Rafa, we’re happy to have you’ from the club captain.
Write a letter to Di Matteo in private if you feel like that JT, don’t pose in front of the cameras.
So Chelsea have a big problem. If Abramovich wanted to keep the seat warm for Pep Guardiola he has hardly found the right man.
is Mr Pragmatic, the other the creative director behind the most
beautiful team to play the beautiful game. And never the twain shall
Being the leader of a one-man revolution is a lonely, lonely job. Just ask Rafa.
Backing: Benitez will be especially keen to get John Terry back in the centre of defence when he returns from injury