Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Rafa Benitez is leaving a good team for the incoming Mourinho

The Verdict - Steven Beacom

Chelsea's Frank Lampard and interim manager Rafael Benitez during the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Holland
Chelsea's Frank Lampard and interim manager Rafael Benitez during the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Holland
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Ex-Ajax and Netherlands footballer Johan Cruyff congratulates Chelsea Interim Manager Rafael Benitez after the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez celebrates with the UEFA Europa League trophy after the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Frank Lampard of Chelsea lifts the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
Chelsea players pose with the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final
Chelsea's David Luiz with the UEFA Europa League trophy after the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam
Chelsea's John Terry (right) with Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay (centre) and Bruce Buck during the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Holland
Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta (left) and Branislav Ivanovic celebrate after winning the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Holland
Chelsea players celebrate with the UEFA Europa League trophy after the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Holland
Chelsea's John Terry and Ashley Cole celebrate after the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam
Chelsea's John Terry with the UEFA Europa League trophy after the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Holland
Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic celebrates after winning during the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam
Chelsea's David Luiz celebrates after winning the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech celebrates with the UEFA Europa League trophy after winning the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena
Chelsea lift the UEFA Europa League trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Holland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 15, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Chelsea. Photo credit should read: John Walton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only when not based solely on any team and/or any player(s) and/or devoted to the UEFA Europa League. No commercial use. Call 44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Chelsea's Frank Lampard (centre) and his team-mates lift the UEFA Europa League trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam
Chelsea's Petr Cech and Frank Lampard celebrate winning the UEFA Europa League during the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: A dejected Enzo Perez of Benfica is consoled by Pablo Aimar of Benfica during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Dejected Benfica players look on after the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: A dejected Ola John of Benfica reacts after defeat during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Luisao of Benfica tackles Ramires of Chelsea during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: A dejected Oscar Cardozo of Benfica looks on during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: A dejected Eduardo Salvio of Benfica looks on during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Frank Lampard of Chelsea and Nicolas Gaitan of Benfica battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: A dejected Oscar Cardozo of Benfica lies on the pitch after defeat during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Frank Lampard of Chelsea and Nicolas Gaitan of Benfica battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Frank Lampard of Chelsea and Nicolas Gaitan of Benfica battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: A dejected Luisao of Benfica looks on during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Luisao of Benfica reacts during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Chelsea Interim Manager Rafael Benitez and his coaching staff pose with the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Yossi Benayoun and Fernando Torres of Chelsea pose with the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Marko Marin of Chelsea and Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea celebrate with the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Chelsea Chief Executive Ron Gourlay celebrates with John Terry of Chelsea during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Juan Mata and Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea pose with the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Paulo Ferreira of Chelsea celebrates on the pitch with his son during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Juan Mata of Chelsea is marshalled by Nicolas Gaitan of Benfica during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Ashley Cole of Chelsea celebrates with the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Frank Lampard of Chelsea throws his boots to the fans during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: John Terry of Chelsea applauds the fans during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: (L-R) Oriol Romeu, Fernando Torres, Cesar Azpilicueta and Juan Mata of Chelsea pose with the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Gary Cahill of Chelsea and tea mates celebrate victory during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: (L-R) David Luiz, Ramires and Oscar of Chelsea pose with trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: John Terry of Chelsea celebrates with his children Georgie and Summer during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Petr Cech of Chelsea celebrates with the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Chelsea Interim Manager Rafael Benitez poses with the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Frank Lampard of Chelsea throws his boots to the fans during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Frank Lampard of Chelsea is congratulated by UEFA President Michel Platini during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Fernando Torres of Chelsea poses with the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Fernando Torres of Chelsea poses with the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Frank Lampard of Chelsea is congratulated by UEFA President Michel Platini during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Frank Lampard of Chelsea lifts the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: A dejected Luisao and Manager Jorge Jesus of Benfica walk through a Chelsea guard of honour for during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Frank Lampard of Chelsea lifts the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Artur of Benfica looks on as Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea (not pictured) scores the winning goal during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Rafa did it then. Last night he achieved something that past and soon to be present Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has yet to experience.

Winning a European trophy with the west London club. Benitez 1 Mourinho 0.

You know the Spaniard will take great satisfaction in that.

And so after all the jeers, boos and chants telling him he was not wanted anywhere near the club let alone take charge of it, come Sunday, Rafael Benitez can leave Stamford Bridge with his head held high.

There's another trophy on the CV he takes such pride in and bitter rival Sir Alex Ferguson seems to take so much interest in.

Fergie may be interested to know Benitez has now won three major European titles as a manager, just one less than the great Scot.

In Rafa's last game as Chelsea's interim boss at the weekend he will face Ferguson's successor David Moyes and Everton, who the Spaniard once cheekily described as “a small club” after a Merseyside derby.

Everton fans still can't stand Benitez for that unnecessary jibe.

But that antagonism is nothing compared to the loathing of Chelsea supporters towards the former Liverpool boss.

They hated him long before he became boss. Taking over from Roberto Di Matteo, hero as a player and god for managing the side to Champions League glory last season, just made

their feelings much worse. They know Liverpool will forever be Rafa's first love in English football

Chelsea has been more a marriage of convenience for Benitez. He's taken all the abuse that has come with it, knowing he would get out after several months and move on where he is more appreciated.

It's worth pointing out though that in his fraught relationship with Chelsea, he has treated the club well.

With him Chelsea have been successful.

The Blues will be in the Champions League next season (privately, if not publicly, Mourinho will be grateful for that) and of course last night he guided the team to more silverware.

The Europa League may be treated with disdain by some in England, but it is a major trophy and carves out the type of history for the Blues that they should crave, especially when others mock them for having none at all.

Thanks to Branislav Ivanovic's brilliant injury time header, which gave Chelsea a dramatic 2-1 victory over Benfica in the Amsterdam ArenA, the Stamford Bridge side are the first side to be Champions League and Europa League/Uefa Cup holders at the same time.

Chelsea are also one of only four teams to have won those two trophies and the old Cup Winners' Cup, joining Juventus, Bayern Munich and Ajax on an illustrious list.

Not bad eh? Of course the players deserve huge credit.

The experienced Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Ivanovic and Frank Lampard continue to deliver while Juan Mata, Ramires and Eden Hazard, injured for the final, have enjoyed fine campaigns.

Even Fernando Torres came to the party last night, providing a superb finish.

Then there's Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich who has made all this possible with his riches.

But let's give Benitez some credit too.

He'll never be special to Chelsea supporters, but he will leave the club a winner.

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