Benitez also knew he was occupying the manager's office while Abramovich planned, in vain as it transpired, to replace him with Pep Guardiola.
He said and did all the right things. The fans were "clever". The job was "perfect". Working for the ruthless Abramovich would be "easy".
Chelsea managers under Roman Abramovich
Claudio Ranieri: Sep 2000 to May 2004
Jose Mourinho: Jun 2004 to Sep 2007
Avram Grant: Sep 2007 to May 2008
Luiz Felipe Scolari: Jul 2008 to Feb 2009
Guus Hiddink: Feb 2009 to May 2009
Carlo Ancelotti: Jun 2009 to May 2011
Andre Villas-Boas: Jun 2011 to Mar 2012
Roberto Di Matteo: Mar 2012 to Nov 2012
Rafael Benitez, November 2012 to present
Those optimistic words did little to disguise the unspoken sub-plot to Benitez's arrival at Chelsea. This had all the hallmarks of a footballing marriage made in hell.
This was a manager who loves total control working for an owner who would never give it to him, in a temporary tenure overseen by a discontented fanbase who grew to dislike Benitez during his time at Liverpool. These feelings grew during two Champions League semi-final victories and an FA Cup semi-final win against someone who was beloved at Stamford Bridge but who became his bitter adversary, Jose Mourinho.
If Benitez was not a lame duck at Chelsea before travelling up to the Riverside Stadium, he is now. Slowly but surely the unique demands of managing a club that almost thrives on chaos, as well as dealing with a group of disaffected fans who would chant abuse given any encouragement, wore him down.
He was also Abramovich's human shield. Disliked anyway, he was always going to be the lightning conductor for those supporters upset by Di Matteo's sacking because the Russian is rarely a target for any criticism. This is because a deal has been made.
Benitez's coaching career
Born Madrid, 4 April
Joins Real Madrid's coaching staff
Becomes coach of Valladolid but sacked after 23 games
Osasuna tenure ends after nine games
Wins promotion with Segunda Division Extremadura
Gains promotion from Segunda Division with Tenerife
Appointed Valencia boss, securing club's first league title in 31 years
Wins league and Uefa Cup with Valencia
Signs five-year deal with Liverpool
Secures Champions League in his first season
Becomes new manager at Inter Milan
Leaves Inter weeks after winning Fifa Club World Cup
: Appointed interim Chelsea manager
Abramovich provides the millions to win the trophies, as he has done very successfully, and Chelsea's fans must accept how he runs the club, whether they like it or not. Benitez is not subject to such an unwritten contract.
If he is still at Stamford Bridge when West Bromwich Albion arrive on Saturday, as now seems likely, it is a safe bet he will not be feeling a sudden groundswell of goodwill from those in The Shed or Matthew Harding Stands.
contained some salient points, particularly when he suggested the malign atmosphere created by supporters could have an impact on team performances to the extent that Chelsea may not even finish in the top four, but surely little else would have surprised him.
Benitez walked to the technical area to face Manchester City on 25 November and was swiftly acquainted with how he was regarded. Jeers rang around and have continued ever since - although the Spaniard has always insisted he was so focused on events on the pitch it has never bothered him.
He has heard them now and it was clearly one of a number of factors that provoked that incendiary reaction at Middlesbrough.
Benitez's complaint about the title of "interim" manager is a red herring. He knew that was his title, so he can have no comeback now. If it is "a massive mistake" now, then it was "a massive mistake" when it was handed to him and he seemed happy enough in November.
Frank Lampard's contract situation, or lack of one, rumbled on in the background with Benitez powerless to resolve it and recently there was
talk of a rift
with members of his squad unhappy with his methods.
Benitez's interview in full
Read the full transcript of Rafa Benitez's astonishing interview with
BBC Radio 5 live
Of course this is par for the course at Chelsea. Plenty of his predecessors have had to deal with stories questioning their management skills when results have gone awry - history tells us their players are rarely ready to take the blame for any poor results.
Perhaps the root of the remarks that have effectively finished Benitez at Chelsea is the fact that a personality who feels he needs to have full power to exert his expertise felt powerless in too many regards. It finally pushed him over the edge.
As and when he goes the wheel will start to spin again. Abramovich's options are somewhat limited but he will pull off quite a coup if he manages to appoint a successor more divisive and unpopular than Benitez among Chelsea's support.
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