Benitez appointment leaves Chelsea fans furious with out-of-touch club

The former Liverpool boss is the antithesis of what Blues followers want from a manager, while supporters remain furious over the treatment of club legend Roberto Di Matteo
By Dan Levene | Blues Chronicle

Chelsea fans were already in uproar at the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, just six months after winning the Champions League. Now the focus of their frustration has switched to the man who is next in the hot-seat.

Rafael Benitez, identified almost entirely with his time at Liverpool, has been confirmed as the man to replace Di Matteo. He is the antithesis of what Chelsea fans want from a manager.

A man without the charisma of Mourinho, the credibility of Ancelotti, or the homeliness of Di Matteo - there is already talk of a harsh fan reaction to his appointment.

The belief among those I have spoken to is that Benitez has always benefited from the squads built by others: Hector Cuper at Valencia, Gerard Houllier at Liverpool.

His transfer record at Anfield includes a litany of £8m-£10m footballers, who ended up playing like £1m-£2m cloggers. They say his football is turgid, his identity forever Scouse. He simply is not who the Chelsea supporters want to lead the club.

If the club did not already know that, then they are even more out of touch with Chelsea fans than had previously been thought. Even more out of touch than a club that has just sacked one of the greatest heroes its fans have ever worshipped.

Chelsea knew when they appointed Di Matteo as assistant manager to Andre Villas-Boas back in summer 2011 that they were getting two things: a coach, and a legend.

The latter was the reason he was able to stabilise the club in the aftermath of Villas-Boas' sacking in March: fans, people around the club, players all trusted his knowledge, experience and passion in a time of trouble.

Now, as he is sacked for being apparently lacking in the coaching department, the club has difficulty in ridding itself of a legendary status that has only grown in his second period at Stamford Bridge.

In the hours since news broke, Chelsea supporters have clamoured to social media to reveal the scale of their discontent.

People have talked of their shame at the club's actions, and their sense of loss arising from the dismissal of someone they coinsidered one of their own. A common theme is that Chelsea's hierarchy have reduced the club to the status of a laughing stock.

Di Matteo 'got' Chelsea. He understood the fans. He knew that there was no greater victory than one over Tottenham (he managed two: 5-1 at Wembley, and 4-2 at White Hart Lane).

He knew that this is a club for whom hard-times meant something other than the potential failure to qualify from a Champions League group.

But he also knew that times and expectations had moved on: and that he was partly responsible for that.

No true match-going Chelsea fan I know likes managers being sacked. We cherish loyalty, and to abandon or abuse one of our own is most definitely not 'proper Chels'.

This sacking hurts. The sackings of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti hurt too, but this seems to have hurt more. Because he was a link with the old Chelsea; because of what we went through together.

And ultimately because of success: Di Matteo is the only manager in Chelsea history to have out-specialed The Special One. The fact he has now been replaced by Benitez will be a bitter pill for the fans to swallow.

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