Chelsea will have their traditional lap of honour after the last game of the season against Everton at Stamford Bridge on Sunday after securing a place in the Premier League’s top four and winning a second UEFA title in consecutive seasons following their Europa League success.
The players and manager would do this normally as they thank the fans for their support over the season but there are fears that Rafael Benitez will receive abuse if he takes part in the proceedings and a number of the senior squad members are hoping for a truce.
Petr Cech said:
“It is up to the fans to decide but he has done enough to show what he can do. He came here to try to win trophies and do as best he could — and he did that. It is up to everyone to decide what reception he will get on Sunday.
“I think everybody deserves the credit for what we’ve achieved this season. The manager, his staff, everyone. We are all in the same boat. You try to do as best as you can to win trophies and games and when you end up with success, everybody is part of it.”
Frank Lampard also argued that the manager deserves credit:
“Of course the manager deserves credit. We won the Europa League and have finished in a Champions League qualifying position, that is a pretty good season.
“Success is driven by a team effort and it is the entire team and management team that need to take credit for what we have overcome and achieved this season and I am sure that the fans, as always, will celebrate that success with us, team and manager alike.”
Gary Cahill added:
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but you can’t really knock what he has done and we have finished strongly over the last couple of months.”
Whilst fringe squad member Paulo Ferreira believes he should be thanked:
“I think they should [say thank you]. It has been a bit of an up and down season for him in terms of emotion with the fans and all that.”
As Cech and Cahill say the fans will decide how they want to react to Benitez and there are many reasons why he’s such a maligned figure at the club.
To me he’s just a man that has taken on a job and has done it to the best of his abilities, it doesn’t really matter if I like him or not as he didn’t appoint himself and the anger has been directed at him for much of the second half of the season, he’s just a scapegoat for the board.
I think the message that the players are trying to convey is that he’s been part of the team and they succeed and fail together, so when it comes to celebrating our Europa League triumph and top four (hopefully third place) finish he’s a part of it. Yes, we were closer to Manchester United when he took over but the signs we were slipping were there and it looked as though the players either weren’t playing for Roberto Di Matteo, or just weren’t fit. I hope that it was the latter and over the winter we saw the evidence of an unbalanced squad that wasn’t in the best of shape which is difficult to manage when you have to play three games most weeks and the board recruited just the one player in January.
It’s fine not to like someone, it’s fine to criticise but I don’t really like hearing personal abuse and it isn’t necessary as he won’t be sticking around anyway. For what’s it is worth I don’t think there will be much of a negative reaction and we’ll probably hear more ‘Jose Mourinho’ chants than booing. Chelsea fans have been heavily criticised in the media for their reaction to Di Matteo’s firing and Benitez’s hiring but they were looking for someone to hit out at, it hasn’t really been the case over the past few months and our fans aren’t known for being precious like supporters at other clubs, who take offence to everything but are rarely criticised for it.
Source: Evening Stadard