Rafael Benitez has guided Chelsea FC to the Europa League finals, where they will play Benfica of Portugal in the Amsterdam Arena on the 15th of May. Benitez’s tenure as an interim tutor at Chelsea has come with its own twists and turns. At the turn, Chelsea has refused to be counted among the fallen giants with commendable shows on pitch.
Chelsea FC of London played host to FC Basle, known for their giant-killing feats, on Thursday. It did bother Benitez but what didn’t was the possible return of Jose Mourinho to the club he left in 2007. The Spaniard, on resuming his first training session at Cobham was greeted by accusations, all pointing to his discriminatory utterances against the then Mourinho’s Chelsea.
The European Champions would soon become the fourth team to achieve a classic European treble. They defeated Basle in their second leg semifinal match at Stamford Bridge 3-1 with goals from Victor moses, David Luiz and Fernando Torres. They ended the two- leg fixture on a 5-2 aggregate, with Chelsea progressing to the final against Benfica.
Mourinho, arguably football’s greatest “superstar coach”, seems to be mapping an exit out of the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. He’s accused the Spanish media as ‘some people who don’t like me.’ . One question every one could answer correctly, assuming we all got a clue, is who will fill Mourinho’s shoes at the Bernabeu incase he leaves in the summer?
Mourinho’s successor has to be among the crop of geniuses in the coaching business, ready to win over the Los Blancos’ supporters. In his three- year stay at Madrid, the Portuguese has had several burst- ups with Spanish Media and even Florentino Perez, Chief Executive Officer at the Bernabeu. His decision to have Diego Lopez Rodriguez in goal has been justified on so many occasions, but so many Madrid supporters took it as a slight on Iker Castillas. Lopez on his own part has proved his cynics wrong. But the Madridista’s prefer the injury- prone legend Castillas.
The criticism at Stamford Bridge has also had its own twists and turns. Rafa has gone from a ‘winless coach’ to a potential champion.What will a victory for Chelsea at the Amsterdam Arena mean to the fans after making loads of discriminatory comments about the coach? Our guess would be shell- shocked, amazed, hysterical butdefinitely not glib because nobody gave the team the chance after bowing out of the Champions League from the group stages (the first time a defending champion fails to qualify for the knock- out stage).
Rafa will have to finish among the top four for Mourinho to fancy another Chelsea return and for the Spaniard to exit Stamford Bridge happily ever after. Chelsea’s weekend game against champions Manchester United probably will determine that, before the one against rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
In 2010 Benitez replaced Mourinho at Inter Milan but failed to live up to expectation, a job he eventually lost. Avram Grant replaced Mourinho at Chelsea. His team made it to more finals than any other team in the league; then failed to win silverware. One has to wonder if football’s legendary coach jinxes his successors or is in fact suffering from a jinx. Every team he has ever coached have always won one trophy or the other, but the fact remains he never won the Champions League at Stamford Bridge and Satiago Bernabeu. His successors are already over- burdened with one expectation or the other and sometimes lose their own priorities. Ask Rafael Benitez.
Benitez has to start believing the stakes are high for him since it’s already obvious he is leaving. Win the Europa Cup tie with a top- four finish, then you’re off with a major career boost in Europe. Who knows were he finds himself ?
Whichever way it goes, Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge will have him try to do the same thing twice. Hope he wins the European Champions League this time.