The Andy Gray Column: Chelsea a bridge too far for Guardiola

Summary: ambassador Andy Gray was talking exclusively to SWLondoner…


PEP Guardiola’s decision to join Bayern Munich has been seen by some as a snub to Chelsea but I never thought there was a cat in hell’s chance of the former Barcelona boss agreeing to go to Stamford Bridge.

I don’t think Guardiola wants to manage a club that is set up the way Chelsea is – the last manager who had more than a couple of seasons there was Jose Mourinho, and he’s been gone since 2007. Chelsea just seem to go from manager to manager when Roman Abramovich is unhappy and when results go against them, because he wants trophies.

If you’re Pep Guardiola you don’t want to be working under that kind of pressure and those restraints, so I never thought Chelsea was a goer.

But it is a massive blow to the Chelsea owner. He made it no secret that Pep was his No.1 choice.

I don’t think Pep agreeing to join Bayern Munich rather than Chelsea will save Rafa Benitez’s job either – I feel Chelsea will be starting from square one all over again in the summer.

My gut feeling is that Benitez will be manager of Real Madrid next August. I think Jose Mourinho is likely to leave and Benitez will be one of the top two candidates to manage them.

That may sound daft but he’s not wanted at Chelsea, whereas Madrid think the world of him and have a great admiration for him for what he did at Valencia.

They haven’t forgotten that and they also remember he won the Champions League with Liverpool.

But whatever he does at Chelsea, he’s not going to change the fans’ minds. Dropping points at home again will certainly not have helped him convince the owner he’s the man for the job either.

Since 1992 Chelsea have won 87 of the 89 games where they have led 2-0 at half-time. That shows you how surprising the result against Southampton was.

Take nothing away from Nigel Adkins’ side, they scored two fantastic goals, dug in and kept going.

But if you’re a Chelsea fan you must be wondering what is going on at the Bridge – they just cannot win there.

They’ve had two victories at home under Benitez, one against Nordsjaelland in the Champions League where in all honesty anyone would’ve beaten them and another against a very poor Aston Villa side where they won 8-0.

Those games apart it’s just been frustration after frustration. And it doesn’t get any easier when they face Arsenal at the weekend.

You may not agree with Chelsea fans booing Benitez but they have been consistent in saying they have never liked him.

Even when he’s got them a good result, it hasn’t stopped them saying ‘we still don’t want him here, we want him out’.

It’s a big game this weekend because the league is beyond Chelsea and Arsenal are now a direct rival for third and fourth.Chelsea are not consistent enough at the moment to suggest they can challenge for the title.

They would pretty much have to go through the season unbeaten to have any chance, and hope that both United and City stumble, which you wouldn’t put your money on.

Benitez has a difficult choice over who to pick up front out of Demba Ba and Fernando Torres. If it’s one or the other you have to play Ba because he’s scoring goals when he plays.

You can’t leave him out, so it will be interesting if he plays both of them. It’s something he should think about.

He played them both for ten minutes against Southampton but should try it from the start of a game. He’ll probably start with Ba and leave Torres on the bench.

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