Date: 20th May 2013 at 9:00pm
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tt_image_719916Rafa Benitez’s time at Chelsea officially finishes on June 30th but won’t have any further work with the squad beyond Saturday when we finish out post-season tour of the US.

It seems as though those that argue whether or not his spell was a success or failure seem to go from one extreme to the other when the reality is most likely somewhere in the middle.

It’s true that Chelsea were only four points off Manchester United at the time the Spaniard took over and his team selections and use of subs have often raised eyebrows but the latter would be the case for most managers as not everyone is going to agree on the starting XI or what changes should be made every week. My biggest criticism of his was during the early days of his tenure when he had an opportunity to make peace with the fans, and we know that not everything being said was true, but he could perhaps have handled it better.

The World Club Cup final was a bit of a monumental failure as we huffed and puffed our way to the final only to lose to a less-than-thrilling Corinthians side. The Capital One Cup semi-final defeat against Swansea was also a farce, but I think these were the only competitions he failed in that we really should have won. It wasn’t a disgrace to go out to Manchester City in the FA Cup as they overpowered our tricky creative players for 70 minutes and Robin van Persie looked to fire Manchester United to the Premier League title early on, even when he wasn’t scoring they did enough to maintain a gap.

However, the signs that Roberto Di Matteo’s side were derailing were there and the club made a call as the young Italian didn’t have the experience and looked to be struggling with the small squad at his disposal. The players didn’t look fit, especially as the same XI were playing most weeks and when there was rotation it involved picking players out of position, like Ryan Bertrand on the left-wing and Eden Hazard up front.

Almost every fan sensed how unbalanced the squad was and many were calling for purchases over the winter, especially a forward and a midfielder but we only got one of these and I think credit has to go where it’s due when it comes to squad management. Benitez also played David Luiz in midfield, the Brazilian impressed, it gave us another option when basically working with a skeleton crew.

This doesn’t mean anyone has to like him or even thank him but as a group of fans we’re optimistic about the future as a new manager will come in and has a good environment to walk into. We now look like a club on the up and even though everyone has made mistakes, including Benitez, the board and the players, they all played their part in building towards a better future at Stamford Bridge.

Simon Johnson of the Evening Standard argued that Benitez has done the groundwork to help aide his successor in a similar way as Claudio Ranieri did before Jose Mourinho added the finishing touches during his first stint and believes history will now repeat itself as he expects the Portuguese coach to come back and be successful once again.

Source: Evening Standard