Monday, 26 November 2012

Why Chelsea's anti-Benitez protest was wrong

There must have been a point before Chelsea's clash with Manchester City that some of the home supporters had a brainwave. They were really irritated by the appointment of Rafael Benitez and they needed to let the world know how they felt.

Protests in football have taken many forms. Street protests outside Anfield against Hicks and Gillett, a chicken on the pitch at Blackburn to suggest that Venky's were better suited to meat processing than football, and a colour-themed anti-Glazer stance at Manchester United. You can now add the A4 print-out protest to the list.

How it made its way through the mental filter should be questioned and there now needs to be a point where Chelsea supporters realise that Sunday's protest made them look utterly daft.

Regardless of the fact that Benitez has been in as many Champions League finals as Chelsea, fans are entitled to their opinions. He is the anti-Mourinho. José is the managerial ultimate at the Bridge and the hiring of the pantomime villain does not sit comfortably. That is understandable. The problem is not that they did not want Rafa Benitez as their manager.

The real issue is the fact that their vitriol was pointed in entirely the wrong direction.

Benitez is a manager whose work at Liverpool is no longer given the recognition it deserves by many due to an ugly downfall, his subsequent failure at Inter Milan and a series of misconceptions that have become facts to those who mention them frequently enough. Rafa the defensive manager, for example. The same defensive manager whose side scored more goals in the Premier League than any other in 2008-9. You get the idea...

This is a manager who wanted a route back into the English game and was offered a six-month audition for redemption by a club with huge resources and a talented squad. Why would he turn it down?

Yet on Sunday afternoon, he was the target of the anger. It was the equivalent of being fired from your job and scratching your keys against the door of your replacement's car, rather than the one owned by the boss who sent you packing. Chelsea fans don't want Benitez. We get that. So why not direct the protests at the man who fired Roberto di Matteo and hired the Spaniard in the first place?

It is simple. He has the money. He has given Chelsea fans success beyond their wildest dreams and without him, life is slightly unnerving. Without the man who sat in his box entirely disinterested by the Microsoft-enhanced handiwork in the stands, Chelsea would not be European champions.

Rather than criticise the man at fault for the turnover of Chelsea managers, a self-defeating protest against a manager who had not yet managed a minute of football took place.

If Chelsea fans really oppose what is happening, they should put Roman Abramovich's name on the paper.

I would advise investing in some A3 paper to do so, just to get the message across.