Sorry Roman, I Think We Said RAFA Out, Not Robbie
Cut me some slack. I haven’t ranted about Rafa or the board in a while, although not for want of material. In fact, they have given us so much more rant-worthy fodder, and so much more over which to get angry, and that’s without taking into account the run of results we’ve had over the past couple of months.
Our Europa League home game against Sparta Prague took place exactly three months from the day Robbie was sacked, and look how far we’ve fallen. The board has continued to drive us into the ground with their multitude of stupid decisions, and Rafa with his tactics and complete cluelessness. The players have developed a total lack of motivation and/or interest, and clearly have no desire to play for Benitez. Fans spend more time fighting with each other than with opposition supporters.
Who would have thought that when we were crowned kings of Europe just over nine months ago this is how our season would have turned out, this is where we would be now? And it’s not just that we are left in the running for only two out of the possible seven competitions available at the start of the season, but significantly, the atmosphere surrounding the club in general and at Stamford Bridge, as well as the loathsome attitude and despicable behaviour of the men in control. The habit of the owner to sack managers practically every other season had turned the already disliked Chelsea into a bit of a joke, to say the least, but the series of events that have recently taken place at the club have elevated us to the laughingstock of the League at best, to venomously hated at worst. If any manager down the line wants to take the job here, I’d question his sanity.
The latest in the chain of demands by the powers that be have included the request to take down and completely disallow any ‘Rafa Out’ and ‘Come Home Jose’ banners, which surely only create more dissent among the support. It certainly will not silence us, and it will only make the Rafalution grow louder and stronger. Oi, Roman-this isn’t Russia; that won’t work.
The utmost sickening thing has been the childish, petty move to airbrush Robbie out of the FA Cup and Champions League victory photos around the Bridge. Beyond it being utterly disgusting and unbelievably surreal that anyone could stoop to such lows, what are they actually trying to accomplish? Are they truly stupid enough to think it will cause us to ‘come round,’ warm up to Rafa, or forget di Matteo? They can never, ever erase Roberto di Matteo from this club however hard they try. He was a legend as a player, long before Roman came along, and then as a manager who loved-and probably still loves Chelsea with all his heart. He has never said or done anything wrong against the club, and it was more than enough that his sacking was cruel, untimely, and tactless, not to mention probably pointless. If nothing else, it shows a lack of gratitude on Roman’s part to Robbie for delivering the one honour he wanted most; one that we all had waited for, for twelve years. And what’s more, it was a victory that ensured that we would receive a spot in the competition-which is a necessity financially, as well as to attract the appealing talent and to maintain our reputation as a top club-the following season.
The events of late have left me literally on the brink of tears, with this lingering feeling of just wanting to cry, an all around, ‘what the hell is happening to this club?’ sensation. During the matches themselves, it’s all become boring or uncomfortable at best, unpleasant or unbearably dire at worst. Honestly though, nothing is surprising or shocking anymore, although the horror of the events of November somewhat remains. Things have been this way since Roman decided we needed to ‘move on’ and brought the FSW in, despite our loud and vehement protests. The majority of supporters truly do their best to get behind the team, and of course want to win games and competitions, but it’s sure not been an easy ride, and for the first time ever, so many just want the season to be over and to revert to the normal (it’s all relative!) circus that is Chelsea Football Club.
A mere four days after Rafa initially took over, we were about to face City (one day short of exactly three months ago), as we are now. We almost knew what to expect with Rafa then, and unfortunately we weren’t proven wrong. Not much has changed, except for that perhaps now our defence is not as tight as it was those first couple of games when, at the start, Rafa promised to shore it up. I do not go into this match with great confidence, and will be happy if we can get anything out of it; it would be a shame not to, with second place in our sights. But it’s always like a ticking time bomb with Benitez, we never know what he will decide to do next-who will he leave out, who he will bring on, how does he plan to secure a win, if he can even manage that? At least the timing of his substitutions is reassuringly consistent, even if the subs themselves aren’t quite right. (As much as the Chelsea-hating, Rafa sympathetic media like to portray him as such, Benitez is no victim. True, he is not always entirely at fault, but too often he is a key perpetrator in our mistakes, points dropped, and overall poor performances).
Once Rafa does leave, I don’t think these problems surrounding the club will be forgotten, and they will not dissipate. Instead, the board, (and Roman) will continue to commit dangerous gaffes which threaten the credibility, success, and lifeblood of this club, and the supporters’ continued dissatisfaction will be manifested in some other way, through some other grievance or issue, painted on new banners and voiced in new chants and songs. Until then, we must make ourselves heard, whether through songs, or by ensuring we have a voice at the club by buying CPO shares or joining the Chelsea Supporters Trust. We need to continue with what we’ve been doing: ignore Rafa and do our damndest to support the club, get behind the team, and pray for a new contract for Frank Lampard.