Irish Examiner Article Published 1st April 2013
The general consensus is that Benitez doesn’t give a flying one in terms of where we finish this season – that he would rather win a cup than leave any sort of foundation for Champions League football for his successor. He believes that by winning a cup his tenure would be adjudged to be a success – in his mind anyway (a strange and lonely place).
I’d imagine the ever stronger rumours that that successor is Jose Mourinho is making Benitez all the more erratic in his behaviour. It is common knowledge that there is little love lost between them and personally I fully believe that the Spaniard is spiteful enough to try and poison the pot before he leaves. Some papers are stating that Mourinho’s acceptance of the Chelsea job is actually dependent on our qualification for the Champions League – even more reason for him to cock it up.
Benitez’s post match interviews are becoming even more bizarre too. At the weekend he was claiming that he had received “many many” messages and e-mails telling him that he was doing a wonderful job and to carry on. Who are these messages from exactly – the clinically insane? Liverpool fans? Amount to one and the same really….
I would love to know what Abramovich is making of all of this – I can’t imagine he is best pleased.
So it is evident that Benitez wants to win the FA Cup and that he will bring out the big guns today – Mata will miraculously be fit again. Hazard, Cole etc will all get starts but it will not make up for the debacle at St. Mary’s – even if we win.
I’d imagine old red nose will be going all out for this game too – after all the league is won and the FA cup will be high on his wish list given that United haven’t won it for almost 10 years and another double will only enhance his already glittering CV.
I am at the stage where I think no manager would be preferable to the current situation. There are enough senior players in that team to drag us over the finishing line, and I think with a better chance of finishing 4th than if we persist with Benitez.
The fact that Benitez has chosen to field a stronger team in the FA cup than in the league also demonstrates his own personal pettiness. Ferguson too tormented Benitez when they were adversaries previously and the Interim One is now trying to settle old scores – but he is doing it by gambling with the fortunes of our club – which of course he doesn’t care about.
Even the pundits are now saying that Benitez doesn’t care what happens or how we do – if he really has had enough and if he had any self respect he would walk away – but then he would miss out on a bundle load of cash – no matter that he is probably a millionaire a few times over.
The only crumb of satisfaction that I have is that Benitez has managed to ensure that his reputation is worse now than when he was in the managerial wilderness for two years. What club owner in their right mind would give him a job now? His performance at Chelsea I think has not only laid bare his professional foibles but also those of his personality – and it doesn’t make for good viewing.
This whole episode for me has been worse than the Avram Grant debacle – Grant was an Abramovich patsy – someone bought in to hold the fort effectively but not actually do anything – where as Benitez is a destructive influence – a man that that has adversely effected the way we play, the team spirit, the confidence of the players and has put fans at odds with each other. He has to go and he has to go now – before the harm he does becomes irrevocable and we are close to that stage now. The end of the season cannot come fast enough.
Irish Examiner Article Published 2nd April 2013
The win against United was no vindication for Benitez – if anything, it highlighted just how much he ballsed up the team selection against Southampton. That said I am delighted at preventing United doing the double this season – Ferguson’s current crop are too average to be celebrated as a double winning side.
Two pivotal moments in this Cup clash decided this tie – Ba’s brilliant finish and Cech’s extraordinary save from Hernandez; it was always going to need something spectacular to prevent the Mexican scoring his customary goal against us and Cech certainly defied both the laws of physics and my assertions that our keeper powers have seemed recently on the wane.
Ferguson obviously saw the game differently – preposterously claiming that United should have been four nil up in the first half – not just Benitez who is delusional then?
It was a game of small margins in many aspects but Ba’s goal was worthy of a semi-final place. Perhaps he was channelling Didier Drogba as it was exactly the kind of goal the Ivorian would have scored – here’s hoping that Ba can perhaps develop that special relationship with Wembley that Drogba enjoyed and has seen us enjoy countless visits to the home of football.
The win wasn’t without a price though – Ashley Cole picking up an injury will be an issue – Bertrand has not really developed into the player that I would have hoped, all be it still early in his career. Cole is a hard act to follow, but when given a chance as he was at St Mary’s, Bertrand should be making more of an impression – against Southampton I had only Moses down as having a worse game.
Bertrand redeemed himself against United, looking far more composed and infinitely more focussed on the job at hand – no doubt aided by being surrounded by a “proper” first team.
I do have to mention the United fans – they were very bullish prior to kick off – absolutely certain that they just had to turn up for victory. Not only the fans, but the club itself it seems – who had the semi-final ticket details up prior to the match – any other club would undoubtedly be accused of arrogance.
What did make me laugh though, was the United fans chanting about our “racist centre half” – conveniently forgetting that Rio Ferdinand was himself fined for his racist comment about Ashley Cole. Glass houses and all that…..
No doubt Chelsea’s booing of Ferdinand will be interpreted as “racist” too which is ludicrous. Ashley Cole has been roundly booed for years at almost every Premier League ground in the country yet no one has ever suggested that it has anything to do with the colour of his skin. Yet, anything remotely negative concerning the United centre half is automatically reported as a race issue. The fact of the matter is that most Chelsea fans just dislike Ferdinand intensely – it’s as simple as that. The fact he played for Leeds & West Ham will also have not enamoured him to the Chelsea faithful. The circus surrounding the England captaincy and the immature way he handled that made him even less popular. The missed drugs test, his constant barbs against John Terry, Ashley Cole etc using social media, the contemptuous attitude regarding the honour of representing England – all just chip away at his standing in the game as far as the fans are concerned – yet the media persist with the racist angle. While imagined racism is splashed across the back-pages, instances of real racism will fester. Here endeth the lesson – back to football.
I can only hope that this result gives us some sort of sense of belief as the fist fight for 4th is going to get heated. Although our run is difficult, the game in hand over Tottenham and the fact that we have to play them (at home) should give us an advantage – question is whether Benitez has learnt a lesson from the Southampton game – I would hazard at guess at not – but perhaps an internal memo from the man at the top will have reminded the Spaniard of our priorities.
We are now entering the part of the season where virtually every game is a “must win” game – the fixtures are running out and there is little margin for error anymore. If we could just get that 4th place, we could get the club back on track with a clean slate for a good pre-season with a new man at the helm – that together with a couple of decent signings and we could find ourselves back to some semblance of normality – here’s hoping. Come on Chelsea
Posted by Trizia