In Depth

Rafa Benitez on the brink after 'rant' at Chelsea board

How can Stamford Bridge boss carry on after his amazing attack on the club and its fans?

CHELSEA could be about to bid farewell to their ninth manager in five-and-a-half years and their third in less than a year following Rafa Benitez's remarkable attack on the club and its supporters last night.

  • Rafa Benitez lets rip

Among other things, the Spaniard said his employers had made a "massive mistake" by appointing him only "interim" manager. Some dismissed Benitez's comments as a "rant" but The Guardian called it a "measured, apparently premeditated post-match monologue". However, with the Chelsea board due to meet today, all are agreed that it's probably time to dust off the Stamford Bridge guillotine yet again.

Rory Smith of The Times was taken aback by what he called a "strafing attack on Chelsea's mutinous supporters [and] its dysfunctional board". Benitez clearly has a "genuine belief that the poisonous atmosphere at home games is hampering his work" and "has felt increasingly exposed by his employers in recent weeks", he says.

All the angst within the Chelsea boss came "spilling out" after the game, says James Lawton in The Independent. "Benitez can now hardly conceal his bitterness towards Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea hierarchy who made it clear that his reign at Stamford Bridge would never be more than a brief holding operation."

It is now obvious that his style of management is just not suited to the Chelsea regime, adds Lawton. "Last night it seemed that even he had grasped that he had been selected for the wrong stage."

Considering the chaotic situation he walked into, "the biggest surprise is that Benitez has remained on message for a full 13 weeks", argues Jeremy Wilson of The Daily Telegraph.

His appointment was always a "marriage made in hell" and a quickie divorce now seems inevitable. "Benitez seems to have deliberately taken himself to the point of no return with Chelsea and their supporters," says Wilson. "Can he really now stand in the Stamford Bridge dugout on Saturday having accused his bosses of a 'massive mistake', confirmed that he is leaving at the end of the season and been so critical of the most vocal sections of the club's own fans?"

Despite the turmoil some fans remain confident of their club's chances of appointing a big-name successor whenever the axe falls on Benitez.

According to the We Ain't Got No History blog, a combination of the club's wealth, location and squad make the job hugely desirable. "It's easy to look at Chelsea's past with managers and come to the conclusion that most sane individuals wouldn't want to put themselves in that situation, but that's probably not the case at all," it argues. "Sure, a guy like Pep Guardiola that had his choice of any of the world's biggest clubs might pick another international giant over Chelsea, but Pep is certainly the exception.

"It's not a perfect job, but it's still one of the best in the world, and top candidates will always be interested."

But The Daily Mail has other ideas. "Avram Grant is usually available in these circumstances," it states.

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