Chelsea and Rafael Benitez are currently competing in the Club World Cup the other side of the world in Japan.
Chelsea and Rafa Benitez are currently competing in the Club World Cup the other side of the world in Japan.
The competition is a welcome break for the manager who has faced a backlash from Chelsea fans since being appointed to succeed Roberto Di Matteo who took the club to the dizzy heights of winning the Champions League. Trophies are said to be the only way fans will start to accept the appointment of the Spaniard but I wouldn’t be sure.
Winning the Club World Cup may enable a club to call themselves the World Champions but apart from that the tournament is inconvenient, irrelevant and contains various clubs who lack the talent which most Premier League clubs possess. This was underlined by Chelsea’s 3-1 win in the semi-final against the unimpressive Monterrey of Mexico.
Chelsea will now face Brazilian side Corinthians in the final on Sunday looking to increase their winning run and gain some momentum going into the Christmas period. Corinthians will be far more of a challenge than Monterrey but ultimately gaining momentum is the only way the tournament can be advantageous to Chelsea as the quality of competition is low.
The FIFA competition has become increasingly dominated by European clubs who have won the tournament on the last five occasions. Inter, AC Milan, Manchester United and Barcelona have made sure that European clubs have been successful.
If Chelsea win Benitez will become just the second manager to win the tournament twice with fellow Spaniard Pep Guardiola the other man to achieve this feat. Benitez would be the first man to win the tournament with two different teams after winning with Inter in 2010.
The London club looked solid in their opening match with David Luiz excelling in a new midfield role.
The move helped the defence look more solid with Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic as the central defence partnership. And with Fernando Torres looking lively again there is real reason for the club to be optimistic when they return from Japan and try and close what could be a 13-point gap to leaders Manchester United.
Even though Benitez is just the interim manager for Chelsea and is widely expected to leave the club in the summer, fans are adamant he is the wrong man to lead their club after his infamous spell at Liverpool where he had a sour relationship with Jose Mourinho and the club he now manages.
In truth everyone knows owner Roman Abramovich pulls all the important strings at the club and the fans should surely be directing their protests against him shouldn’t they? They would never do this though as the billionaire owner ensures the club will compete at the highest level for the coming years.
It remains to be seen if winning on Sunday will make any difference to the treatment Benitez is receiving from Chelsea fans. Even if it does, Abramovich will no doubt be looking to recruit long term target Guardiola for the start of next season. How long would the former Barcelona manager last in the post I wonder?
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