"This is going to work out REALLY well."
God knows what Chelsea fans must be thinking about the Belfast flag protests but going on past form, we’d imagine it would be something approaching incandescence. Because, like Rafa Benitez, the Belfast City Council has a very blasé opinion of flags. And like rioting morons, some Chelsea fans have decided the best form of opposition is going down the ‘nasty’ route.
The Chelsea Supporters Group chair, Trizia Fiorellino, is one such incandescent. "I think if we don't perform and we go a goal down it could get really nasty," she sniffed. "If he keeps on losing games then this will continue.” Hang on. KEEPS on losing? Benitez’s record is P16 W8 D2 L4. Not great but really not bad at all is it. And that includes 8-0, 6-1 and two 5-1 wins. That’s right, I did say EIGHT NIL.
So why is Benitez hated so? Well of course there was his quip while Liverpool manager about the flag waving. And there’s the fact that Benitez’s predecessor was adored at Stamford Bridge. But hang on, again. Who was it that sacked Roberto di Matteo? That’s Champions League winning Roberto di Matteo by the way. Pretty sure it was the owner, that Russian oligarch fella. NOT RAFAEL BENITEZ.
Let us pepper the piece with more quotes from the oracle, sorry, Trizia Fiorellino: "The fans are in turmoil. There are those that won't accept Benítez at any price, and you have those that feel the current situation is not doing the team any good and feel that they should just accept it until he has gone. That has caused arguments in the stands and scuffles. A couple of people came to blows [on Wednesday]. It was a really sad state of affairs.”
She’s really conjured up a nice image of Chelsea fans there. Fighting in the crowd like lumpen neanderthal cretins because they cannot even begin to express verbally how much they hate Benitez. The answer must therefore be to make the Spaniard’s life a misery until, in his infinite wisdom, Roman Abramovich bows to the fans, notoriously the devout keepers of the game’s ethical code of conduct and long-time rational football strategists*, and appoints a face that fits.
Surely any protest should be aimed at the man who sacked the man the fans love. The reason the majority of Chelsea fans won’t criticise Roman Abramovich is because they are petrified he’ll bugger off back to Russia with his suitcases of cash and Chelsea will be screwed. So for this reason alone, the protests of the fans can be construed as being a tad spineless, no?
"He [Benítez] isn't helping himself with the fans by not making changes. Previous managers did, but he doesn't seem to want to and that smacks of arrogance," whiffles Fiorellino. For a third time, HANG ON. Astonishingly Benitez is now arrogant because he won’t make substitutions. Hardly surprising really when one of those substitutes was ‘one of their own’, Frank Lampard.
Maybe they have a point though, as at least it’s Rafael Benitez whose insistence on persisting with Fernando Torres as the team’s impotent focal point for six months has robbed them of so many huge wins and a Champions League trophy. Except they won the Champions League, have just beaten a team 8-0 AND IT WAS ROMAN ABRAMOVICH AGAIN. NOT RAFAEL BENITEZ.
But no, those booing Chelsea fans are right and Benitez is a dreadful manager who doesn’t understand their rich history of hiring interim managers only to offer them a job then sack them because the team hasn’t produced the entire shortlist of the Ballon d’Or.
Who better then to manage a phenomenon like Chelsea than one of their own? It has to be one of their own because the fans know best. That and, apart from a now very small handful, Chelsea have appointed all the other managers at some point or other. And the way things work at Stamford Bridge at least all would have had a chance by the end of 2014, given that presumably one would be fired every other week for not satisfying the owner / KNOWING NOTHING ABOUT BEING A FOOTBALL MANAGER.
Who better then, in reality, than a man so in love with the game and the club and himself that a little bit of irrationally symbolic material takes on almost supernatural significance.
Step forward England’s bravest man. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you John Terry. We first suggested this back in March 2012 when yet another manager had been given less than a season to win everything and do so playing like Barcelona. It isn’t as far fetched as it sounds given Chelsea’s proclivity for player managers – between June 1993 and September 2000, Chelsea dealt exclusively with player-managers: Glenn Hoddle, Ruud Gullit and Luca Vialli.
Roman, we implore you, please give the job to John Terry and then let us all sit back and have a good old laugh. You’ve tried enough apples. Come on now. Give an unusually high-profile onion a shot. It would be nice to think that Chelsea fans will finally get the manager they deserve. Plus it means we won’t have to endure the particularly unedifying situation of seeing the classy Pep Guardiola debase himself by taking £18m a year to put up with this same old nonsense.
*Yes, it’s sarcasm