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Chelsea fans make their voices heard

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Phil McNulty | 07:28 UK time, Wednesday, 7 March 2012

At St Andrew's

The public vote was cast within seconds and the winner - vociferously announced by 3,000 voices at one end of St Andrew's - was Jose Mourinho.

And the loser, declared equally emphatically but with a liberal sprinkling of venom from the same quarter, was Mourinho's old adversary Rafael Benitez.

Chelsea fans have not had the opportunity to deliver their verdict on the fall-out from Sunday's sacking of Andre Villas-Boas which leaves owner Roman Abramovich looking for the latest manager to fill what increasingly takes on the appearance of the impossible job.

Roberto di Matteo, sharp-suited and stylish in the dug-out at Birmingham City and watching a 2-0 win which put Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-final, was taking charge for the first time since being handed control until the end of the season - but there was another guest at his party.


Chelsea fans hold up a sign during their FA Cup replay match against Birmingham declaring their support for the return of former manager Jose Mourinho. PHOTO: Getty

Barely had the banks of cameramen moved away from Di Matteo and this fifth-round replay began before the travelling Chelsea supporters made their wishes clear on a variety of matters currently exercising Abramovich's mind.

The demand for Mourinho's return, a dream which has a great distance to travel before it becomes anything remotely resembling reality, was made almost instantly.

It was a plea for the old order to be restored but it remains to be seen whether "The Special One" and his former Russian paymaster can get even beyond first base before the potentially rocky ground of lines of demarcation can be discussed.

Of equal intrigue, providing the backdrop to a first half which came perilously close to flouting its billing as entertainment, was the vehemence attached to the name of the man it would appear many Chelsea fans do not want.

Benitez did everything but openly declare his hand, and consequently his interest, in a live interview with BBC Sport from the Emirates.

He had just watched Arsenal come within one goal of threatening a comeback against AC Milan to stand alongside his own greatest moment against those same opponents on the balmy night in Istanbul in May 2005 when Liverpool came from three goals back to win the Champions League on penalties.

And yet if the open revolt against his potential candidacy at St Andrew's is any accurate measure, there is no appetite for Benitez among Chelsea's following.

I believe Chelsea's hierarchy were aware of the anti-Benitez feeling among the fan base even before he took a verbal coating on Tuesday and that his chances of being appointed as Villas-Boas' successor cannot be rated much above nil.

It seems that Benitez, out of work since being sacked at Inter Milan last season, is paying the price for his notoriously spiky relationship with Chelsea and Mourinho in the matches that provided pivotal moments in their Premier League careers.

Benitez may have lost a League Cup final to Chelsea in 2005 but he twice overcame Mourinho in Champions League semi-finals and also had an FA Cup semi-final win to savour in 2006.

He slipped against Chelsea on other occasions but this was when Avram Grant and Guus Hiddink were at the helm.

This appears to have fatally damaged his standing among Chelsea supporters, to the extent where they are willing to make public their disapproval despite Benitez having shown he can devise the sort of strategy that wins the trophy Abramovich craves above all others.

Nothing was heard of Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola's name while it appears the Chelsea oligarch's own approval rating may not have taken too much of a hit despite the latest managerial change as he was serenaded with: "Roman Abramovich - He Sacks Who He Wants."

As indeed he does.

In the middle of this stood Di Matteo, declaring that Chelsea were now "a happy family" while sparing a thought for the departed Villas-Boas, which is more than the supporters did as they hurriedly moved the agenda along to his replacement.

The Italian was cagey on most matters, even whether he had spoken to Villas-Boas, although it is clear the main mission he has been handed is not to win the FA Cup but to make sure Chelsea finish in the Premier League's top four.

This will be the position from where Abramovich can attract his prime target.

He will not have departed Birmingham a much wiser man for a Chelsea performance that eventually deserved to set up a home tie with Leicester City in the last eight.

More pressing tests will come when Stoke City visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday before the second leg of the Champions League tie against Napoli, where they will try to chase down a 3-1 deficit.

Chelsea sealed the win with two goals in swift succession from Juan Mata and Raul Meireles early in the second half, but the first half was desperately unconvincing and Fernando Torres still looks like a striker incapable of scoring.

Di Matteo had the luxury of being able to bring captain John Terry back into the fold as an unused substitute, way ahead of schedule after knee surgery.

He was joined on the bench by Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, with the next week likely to reveal more about the part they will play in the rest of Chelsea's season.

The rest was a matter of getting a job done, getting the win that lifts the turbulent air around Chelsea and bringing Wembley into sharper focus. These are the little victories Di Matteo must achieve.

As ever under Abramovich, the big goal is the Champions League. Di Matteo must make qualification a reality for there to be any chance of realising the dreams of the supporters who want a Mourinho homecoming.

Mourinho does not do Europa League, which means the hard work for the Di Matteo holding operation starts now.


Page 1 of 10

  • Comment number 1.

    "It seems that Benitez….is paying the price for his notoriously spiky relationship with Chelsea and Mourinho…”

    I think it has more to do with him being a crap manager. His Liverpool team were hopeless in the last 12 months or so he was in charge.

    I’d rather have read an in depth analysis of Arsenal’s brilliant performance last night, or something about one of last weekend's games, instead of the Chelsea manager thing all over again. Any chance of changing the record?

  • Comment number 2.

    Another blog about the Chelsea managerial position.......

  • Comment number 3.

    A predictable blog.
    Dont know who will go to Chelsea , they are fast running out of options.

  • Comment number 4.

    Does anyone really care about Chelsea and there over-hyped and over rated mediocre players? They sack a manager with a bright future in order to keep aging so called stars happy.

    Appoint whoever you want, we honestly don’t care. As a Spurs fan I would much rather have read about Arsenal's attempt at overcoming a 4-0 deficit in the CL.

  • Comment number 5.

    There will always be something of an appetite for Mourinho at Chelsea but I hardly think a few loud voices last night make the case. It is the media, once again, who seem determined to make the case for Mourinho.

    Let's put the management issue to bed until the summer and concentrate on Di Matteo and what can be achieved with the fixtures that remain this season.

  • Comment number 6.

    There's no chance of Mourinho coming back - why would he be attracted by a team in such decline? It will take years to rebuild them.

    @1 History says that Benitez won the Champions League (with a mediocre team) - that's something Chelsea hasn't been able to manage with all their millions (billions?), so I think it's Mr Benitez to you old chum.

  • Comment number 7.

    "I’d rather have read an in depth analysis"

    On a McNulty blog ?


    Fair Play Arsenal, you may be out, but atleast you can go out with your heads held high.

    Well done Chelsea, a wins a win, and you are still in the cup.

    Benitez to Chelsea, cant see it, but Villa's fans will tell you what the average owner thinks of fans opinions whne it comes to managerial recruitments

  • Comment number 8.

    Rafa Benitez has won more European trophies than Chelsea football club. You don't deserve him.

  • Comment number 9.

    Have to agree with the first posts. It's all too easy to write yet another blog on the actions of a premier league team. No doubt this type of blog is saved on his hard drive, just needing the managers name updating as and when. What about a blog on the future of British sports journalism?

  • Comment number 10.

    What horrible and poorly written article (compared to what you read on yahoo Eurosport anyway). You get the idea the writer was trying to convey but the writing and organisation of thoughts was soo poor it was almost painful to read!

  • Comment number 11.

    I reckon that Roberto Di Matteo could actually get himself the job by making sure Chelsea don't finish 4th. Then no high-profile manager will want it and he can keep the job.

    Abramovich should just not bother with managers and make himself coach. Either that or someone should introduce him to fantasy football / Championship Manager cos he obviously can't handle real life football.

  • Comment number 12.

    At 09:44 7th Mar 2012, dogeared wrote:
    There's no chance of Mourinho coming back - why would he be attracted by a team in such decline?

    I dont think he will come back , but he still talks very fondly about Chelsea.

    The only way Mourinho might come back If RA funded the transfers for Ronaldo , Pepe, Carvalho, and Coentrao , about 180m quid should do it.

  • Comment number 13.


    In the match I watched Milan didn't start playing until the second half - at that point Arsenal were hopeless and had zero to offer from the bench.

    Wenger also played Chamberlain until he dropped - something he would have gone nuclear about if it had been the England team for example, so yeah, a really proud night.

    btw - Torres looks like he's gained about 3 stone.

  • Comment number 14.

    Always chuckle to see how many McNulty haters there are out there! Would love to have his job - can't be many better jobs in football journalism I reckon.

  • Comment number 15.

    @8 Not sure that's correct actually.

  • Comment number 16.

    No chance.

    Mourinho won't return;even he is sensible enough to know 2nd comings never really work out.

    Yes,Kenny Dalgleish has just won his first trophy on the second round at Anfield, but do you think Abramovic would be satisfied with that sort of season next year?

    His money raised the bar in the EPL. Unfortunately, it also raised the bar of fans' expectations,hence the number of managers since.

    If they win the Cup,rally to 4th or 3rd in the League as well,Di Matteo will keep the job. He knows the club, don't forget.

  • Comment number 17.

    #6 So you'd like him to manage your team? He certainly peaked early, Houllier probably deserves some credit for that win.

  • Comment number 18.


    Yeah, but you are the one who thought starfish stevie was the most dangerous player on the pitch vs. Holland.

  • Comment number 19.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 20.

    It always surprises me that the comments people leave here tend, on the whole, to be even more ridiculous than on football forums, which are famous for hosting many clueless fools looking for cheap 1-ups.

  • Comment number 21.

    although i agree with the above comments to a certain extent i have to say another interesting blog by the maistro!
    phil i believe it not the ''impossible job'' rather the opposite if they get the avram grant minded manager which is a man who is not out for trophy success and accolades rather a wage and a pay out no matter how you look at it this type of manager will not be sad to be sacked as the payout will do so this for abramovich who is concerned with his 'PRIDE & JOY' winning things narrows it down to just a few and the top three of the limited few are rafa, pep and the inneptly named 'special one' (as S.A.F is clearly far more superior to the likes) i think rafa will get the job, for jose will want a control never given wholeheartedly by the oligarch before.

  • Comment number 22.

    IT's a shame that the players at Chelsea have the amount of power they have at that club - there were too many people who didn't pull their weight, and too many holding back because they knew that it would get the manager sacked. Only in football can an underperforming set of minions (which is what footballers are supposed to be, let's not forget) keep their jobs whilst the manager is the one who loses his job. Watch now as Chelsea suddenly begin playing exceptionally and take the last CL place...

    AVB will hopefully bounce back, but I think that Chelsea fans should be disgusted with the attitude and behaviour of their players over the last few months. The moment AVB tried to get Chelsea to play a higher defensive line was the moment the players decided that they knew better about how Chelsea should play...imagine that happening under Shankly, Paisley, Ferguson or Dalglish?

    Disgraceful, overpaid idiots.

  • Comment number 23.

    @20 - how very passive-aggressive.

  • Comment number 24.


    So he's crap because he had a poor last year out of 6? I don't think a crap manager would have won the league in Spain with a team not Real Madrid or Barcelona. Twice
    Or the Uefa Cup
    Or the Champions LEague
    Or the FA cup

    His side were too defensive in his last year in charge, but he was also hamstrung by the owners who promised him a £35m transfer kitty on top of what he recouped and gave him £1.5m, after he'd sold players in order to bring in. Calling him a crap manager because of one poor season after several successful ones is ridiculous. He may not be the right man for Chelsea but that argument can be made or refuted without resorting to such pointless and baseless comments

  • Comment number 25.

    Hmmmm, could Jose inspirit the present Chelsea crop? Yes.

    Will he? I don't think so.

    Why? he likes a new challenge.

    Roman the savior and the destroyer.
    only he knows!!!

  • Comment number 26.


    May I just clarify that it was Mr Benitez who was manager at the time Liverpool won the Champions League. Also on the occasion he took them to the final again a couple of years later. Oh, and the string of other trophies.

    I don't want Mr Benitez to become Chelsea manager anyway - he's far too good, give him the England job I say.

  • Comment number 27.

    1. Benitez a crap manager eh. Well im sure RA would welcome him as his strategic knowhow might just win Chelsea the prize he craves beyond any.

    As for Mourinho coming back are these Chelsea fans living in a time warp? So terry, lampard, Drogba etc will just play like its 2005 again will they.

    Very strange JT being suddenly fit-very suspicious.

    One final thing-do Chelsea need a manager? I ask as they obviously have one already-a 4 headed monster called JT, Cashley, Dorgba, Lamps. Its been running the show since Sept 07. Well at least in Di Matteo they've got someone to clean their Bentleys for them again.

  • Comment number 28.

    #13 Even though they were poor they're still the Italian champions and they were truly embarrassed for 45 minutes. Given the injuries and the tough fixtures we've had, after that break-neck first half it's hardly surprising that Arsenal ran out of steam. Also, it's Wenger's right to play Chamberlain as much as he wants, seeing as we pay his wages and England don't, and he had an illness not an injury so hardly at risk of compounding it.

    The reason he stayed on (along with Song who was dead on his feet) was because there were no centre mids on the bench, given the injuries to Wilshere, Arteta, Ramsey, Diaby, Benayoun and Coquelin. The mere fact that we were starting an 18-year old winger in centre mid should have given that clue to Gary Neville, who was absolutely astounded that Arsenal didn't change things.

    Whatever the other factors, surely has to be a pre-requisite of a possible Mourinho return that they're playing Champions League football?

  • Comment number 29.

    Benitez won't take on Chelsea, but I wouldn't bet against him taking over at Spuds if Harry takes the England job. Though I still think Woy the pigeon Hodgson is the man we should have in charge of the national team.

  • Comment number 30.

    when fergie goes id take benitez over toys out my pram jose anyday!!

  • Comment number 31.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 32.

    @22 The moment AVB tried to get Chelsea to play a higher defensive line was the moment they started getting spanked and ripped apart. Playing that way with the players he had then was never going to work, and it didn't.

  • Comment number 33.

    #22 Chizzle

    Only in football can an underperforming set of minions (which is what footballers are supposed to be, let's not forget) keep their jobs whilst the manager is the one who loses his job. Watch now as Chelsea suddenly begin playing exceptionally and take the last CL place...
    Ignoring the merits of this particular situation, as footballers are the highest paid employees at any club, to call them minions is to show a lack of understanding of things. (Whether those things are right or wrong is another matter.)

    Also, it has probably almost always been the case that the manager is the full guy on the basis that it is easier to sack a manager than a team?

  • Comment number 34.

    How about some slightly more adventurous blogs in the future? Who cares about the Chelsea manager?

    Its getting so bad, the only reason to read is to see what soulpatch is up to:rollseyesscratchesleftbuttockcommentsaboutenglishpubteamplodders

  • Comment number 35.

    THIS 'discussion' shouldnt have taken place AVB should never have been sacked it just would of taken the tyrant two mins to support the man he sacked) and is still following avb's plan anyway) and the squinnys at cfc would know they better play well to go to a nice retirement home at the end of the season rather than a championship side!

  • Comment number 36.

    @32 it's a pity he didn't choose to (or maybe wasn't allowed to) buy better players in the transfer windows - Gary Cahill isn't Chelsea-quality. But he was left with a lot of deadwood when he came in, and whoever comes in next will have the same deadwood, and the same challenge - overhaul the squad. I'd have preferred Chelsea to allow AVB to stay in charge, and to allow him to get the players he wanted rather than be constrained by the club. Unfortunately, Red Rom's hair-trigger means that Chelsea will remain in a state of transition until such time as a manager is actually allowed time to change things properly.

  • Comment number 37.

    Chelsea fans answer me this:

    Would you want a brilliant manager (pick any of your last 5/6) with a stable owner (lets say a Kroenke)??


    Are you happy for big spending RA to stay whilst tapping his foot to managerial musical chairs??

    - a simple question from a curious neutral with no malice intended...

  • Comment number 38.

    Response to No. 1 To be fair to Benitez, he had no money to spend in his last 2 years at Liverpool. The only thing he did wrong was sell Alonso.

  • Comment number 39.

    Why another blog about the Chelsea manager's job? It has already been filled by the puppet master of Chelsea with Di Matteo the ideal "yes man".

  • Comment number 40.

    One big managerial merry go round this summer to happen. The following could or will be looking for a new manager, England, Barcelona, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Chelsea plus we still have to see who will be in a job for many other clubs & countries at the end of the season. I think Phil's got a lot of blogs lined up.

  • Comment number 41.

    Phil McNumpt y mediocre journalist

  • Comment number 42.

    Some Chelsea players should be careful of what they wish if they are wishing for a Mourinho return. His entrance could mean their exit.

  • Comment number 43.

    Howard Kendall, "never go back"

  • Comment number 44.

    #24 “He may not be the right man for Chelsea but that argument can be made or refuted without resorting to such pointless and baseless comments”

    I was refuting the author’s claim that the Chelsea fans wouldn’t welcome him due to the spiky relationship with Mourinho and the club. I contend that it is more football related. I’m not a Chelsea fan by the way, but I’d love him to go back to Liverpool.

    #6 so you would like him to manage your team…?

  • Comment number 45.

    @39 it's a relevant story. What do you want to see him write about? Just because YOU are sick of the topic doesn't mean Phil shouldn't write about what he thinks is a relevant story.

    If you don't like it, there's always other blogs on other websites for you to read.

  • Comment number 46.

    #37 Hau5fly

    On the one hand, what I want is for people to stop talking about Chelsea in such terms and if a period of supposed stability achieved this, then I'd take it!

    The problem is, we Chelsea fans are and have been spoilt. That doesn't make us bad fans and since I've been a fan a long time, whatever happens at the moment is still icing on the cake compared to much leaner times.

    What I would like is for certain players who have had their time at Chelsea to show more effort or accept their fate.

    I didn't want AVB to go because any new man has the same issues that he had. But, we are where we are and I'm still team centric.

    If you said to me that next season we'd be managed by Di Matteo and the team would look something like this, I would take it:-

    New RB - Cahill - Terry - Bertrand
    Essien - McEachran
    New RW - Sturridge - Mata

    So, we can talk about flowery issues that are mainly the stuff of lazy tabloid hacks or we can think about the team and the way forward.

  • Comment number 47.

    8.At 09:46 7th Mar 2012, 5LFCTIMES wrote:
    Rafa Benitez has won more European trophies than Chelsea football club. You don't deserve him.
    ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz he was responisble for you lot not qualifing for europe, liverpool have been out since. he's not a good choice for any prem club let alone a top 4 club!
    Jose shouldnt go back to chelsea, RA will end up sacking him for not winning the world cup!

  • Comment number 48.

    I don't get all the bitterness towards the writer? There's more to discuss/debate about with Chelsea's situation than Arsenal's failed attempt at a miracle...

    Anyway, aside from the fact they should have stuck by AVB what's done is done. Benitez is the obvious choice, yes he has history with their "special one" especially with knocking them out of the CL on a couple of occasions with Liverpool but why should that get in the way of managing them? Fans don't always like the owner's decisions, look at McLeish this season and Pardew last year (which is all forgotton now!)

    The facts are Benitez is a good manager, people will say about is final bow with Liverpool but we all know about the problems with the board/owners so fairly irrelevant IMO. What should be seen is success in Europe with two fairly average teams and some quality buys in his early years with Liverpool. And you never know, he might actually get something out of Torres, and what Chelsea fan wouldn't want that!

  • Comment number 49.

    Gordon Bennet what is it with this mans obsession with Jose Mourinho?

    Does nobody remember his teams are cynical and defensive

    Proven winner but at the cost of your sporting dignity

  • Comment number 50.

    Roy Keane made it clear he didnt like what the Chelsea players did to AVB. On the pre-game chat they should the Chelsea players warming up and flicking the ears of of of the players and laughing, Roy wasn't having it and said "they're carrying on like this after getting the manager sacked?"

  • Comment number 51.

    @46 personally, I think the way forward for Chelsea is to drop that 4-3-3 formation. The players you have don't fit it well enough and get dominated in midfield by even mediocre teams. A 4-4-2 or 4-1-4-1 formation would be of much better use, and some proper wide support might even help bring Torres back from Zombieland.

  • Comment number 52.

    On a more relevant note, didn't Arsenal play well last night.

  • Comment number 53.

    The only way Mourinho might come back If RA funded the transfers for Ronaldo , Pepe, Carvalho, and Coentrao , about 180m quid should do it.


    You might want to double check some of their buy-out clauses in their contracts. £180 million won't even buy Ronaldo's left leg. But even if Roman gave them a billion for the four of them, would they leave one of the world's biggest clubs and nicest cities for Thursday nights on channel 5?

  • Comment number 54.

    And on the other side, how bad were Milan? How they're top of Serie A if they've got performances like that in them is a mystery.

  • Comment number 55.

    @45 if you read this rest of my point then this is a pointless subject, you should all be discussing whether you are happy with the Roman rule rather than who the next manager will be. With RA taking his coaching badges I'm sure you can do the math.

  • Comment number 56.

    I for one thoroughly hope Rafa goes to chelsea.

    Having watched him destroy an Inter team, that won the Treble, within 4 months shows how far he has gone from (admittedly obscure in football) reality.

    Chelsea would be in the bottom 6 by October if he went there.

    He wastes money on inadequate players, blames everyone but himself for poor results and is absoultely shocking.

    The media continue to harp on about "Rafa being a tactical genius" following on from a few good wins before Arsenal won their last trophy... He isn't.

    He states "Liverpool supportes would want me back"... Shows you how far from reality he is.

  • Comment number 57.

    38.At 10:17 7th Mar 2012, In_off_the_post wrote:
    Response to No. 1 To be fair to Benitez, he had no money to spend in his last 2 years at Liverpool. The only thing he did wrong was sell Alonso.
    Thats just not true, he worked on a buy and sell format, i think he bought and sold 76 players in his time at liverpool, which is just too much for any club, he has very little man managment skill and his mouth gets him into trouble.... FACT ;) Chelsea would not work out for him, RA wouldnt keep him long.

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm amazed at some of the anti-Benitez posts on this blog.

    In his first season, Benitez's Liverpool won the Champions League. I agree that Houllier may deserve some credit for assembling the squad Benitez inherited; however, it is a testament to Benitez's managerial skills that Liverpool won the Champions League at all. Let us not forget that Liverpool were five minutes away from elimination in the group stage when Gerrard scored against Olympiakos.

    In his second season, Liverpool won the FA Cup.

    After that, Benitez reassembled his squad and provided a robust challenge to Manchester United in the Premier League, earning the most points in Premier League history for a second placed finished.

    Liverpool may have begun their decline after that; however, this was due to a number of issues both on and off the pitch. Not all of them were under Benitez's control.

    So why not Benitez for Chelsea...?

    I understand the argument for Mourinho but he will require total control of the first team, including any potential signings. It is the owner still who makes certain signings. Kevin de Bruyne's arrival (and departure on loan) is evidence of that and we shouldn't forget AVB's comments that de Bruyne was signed as part of club policy. I can't imagine Ferguson or Wenger declaring a signing as part of club policy, can you...?

    On another note, I'm proud of Arsenal's performance last night against Milan, despite our exit. All of our players should be proud of their efforts and concentrate fully on finishing in the Top Four this season. Third is still possible - I believe we can do it and I hope the players can too.

  • Comment number 59.

    Are these the same manager who welcomed him with Inter with a healthy bout of '**** off Mourinho' or something close?

    Rafa is a top class manager, but he isn't the manager for Chelsea unless Roman stops playing football manager and supports the blokes decisions he brings in.

  • Comment number 60.

    I just don't get the vitriolic responses to Chelsea from supporters of other teams on these blogs.

    I'd much rather have an Abramovich owning my club. He is in it for the kick, the glory, or whatever. He is basically a fan who is happy putting money IN to the club and football.

    Compare this to the owners of for example, Man Utd., Liverpool and Arsenal who are only interested in owning their clubs as an investment, to increase their value and to get OUT as much money as possible.

    Surely any supporter would prefer their club, and for that matter, other clubs to be owned by a fan interested in winning for the sport rather than to increase the financial value of their holding.

    Sure, he's made mistakes over managers and those mistakes are now coming home to roost, but that's football and the next couple of years will be very interesting at Chelsea.

  • Comment number 61.

    @55 every subject is ultimately pointless, shall we never talk about anything ever? If you can't involve yourself in discussion about the topic brought up by Phil then surely you would be better looking for somewhere you CAN involve yourself in a discussion that suits you. In the meantime, I (and many others) are happy to be discussing the Chelsea situation in many different details, not just that of who might take over in summer.

  • Comment number 62.

    #53 We all follow United

    for Thursday nights on channel 5?
    Well, you're certainly in a better position than me to comment on Thursday nights on Channel 5....... ;-)

  • Comment number 63.

    44 No you weren't, you were just calling him a crap manager, which is clearly a stupid thing to say

  • Comment number 64.

    Imagine what Brian Clough would have made of the current crop at Chelsea............Im sure Terry et al would have been pulling the strings then..........
    This nonsense with so called player power has been brought on by ourselves and the powers that be, if people refused to pay extortionately high ticket prices and visited local games for a month theyd see a need for change, and the more clubs allow agents etc to dictate whats happening with players the more nobody knows whats just around the corner when it comes to a players commitment, just look at Tevez......
    The trouble is everyones got a voice on every subject but no-ones doing anything collectively because its too easy to sit back and read columns like this everyday and be a part-time expert........

  • Comment number 65.

    At 10:32 7th Mar 2012, We all follow United wrote:

    I love Madrid , I go there a few times a year with my job.
    Great nightlife !

  • Comment number 66.

    I'm not doing anything important for the next couple of months.

    My CV:_

    1) Never lost any matches against anyone, ever

    2) I have a nice suit

    3) I like big fat paycheques

    4) What I have forgotten about football can be written on the back of a postage stamp I think.

    You could do worse Roman, give me a call.

  • Comment number 67.

    big sam for chelsea.

  • Comment number 68.

    I think it has more to do with him being a crap manager. His Liverpool team were hopeless in the last 12 months or so he was in charge.
    The comment just says it all about how some people think.Six years in Liverpool,12 months with various problems erase the past?
    This is not about Rafa or anti Rafa,is about being fair in judgement.

  • Comment number 69.

    Not at the stage you'll be joining at ;)

  • Comment number 70.

    And let's not forget that the Liverpool team of 2010 came with just minutes of going to the Europa league final (against Fulham)

  • Comment number 71.

    "After that, Benitez reassembled his squad and provided a robust challenge to Manchester United in the Premier League, earning the most points in Premier League history for a second placed finished. "


    Crowned Vice-Champions for having the most points EVERRRRRRR in second place.


  • Comment number 72.

    I've not read the blog, I don't care about this whole farce. However, I do like to engage in football debate and this seems as good a platform as any :)

    The landscape in the race for fourth seems to have changed again:

    1) Are Tottenham being dragged into the jostle for CL places? Redknapp's apparent love-in with the media has backfired this time as they're tapping him up for the England jobs has coincided with Spurs' dip in form.

    2) Arsenal, the team in form look to be primed for an assault at 3rd place. I think they've got some vital momentum after the recent confidence boosting runs. Providing they can keep Koscielny, Vermaelen, Wolcech, Song and RVP fit and firing, I think at least 4th will be their's.

    3) Chelsea. RDM in charge. Players "happy" again. Maybe they can convince themselves getting 4th is in their best interests. One last bonus before they retire. They've got some tough games coming up and probably need their strikers to start firing to give them any chance of 4th.

    4) Think Liverpool and Newcastle are probably out of it now. If Newcastle lose to Arsenal this week, it'll definately be curtains for them. Liverpool have a few tough fixtures coming up...a resurgent Sunderland and Everton, a dogged Newcastle to name a few.

    All things considered, I can't pick between the top 2, although Tevez returning may prove to be a masterstroke. Think it may boil down to that game at Eastlands in April.

    My final table:

    1 / 2) United / City
    3) Arsenal
    4) Spurs
    5) Chelsea
    6) Newcastle
    7) Liverpool
    8) Everton
    9) Fulham
    10) Sunderland.

    Next few weeks promise to be interesting to say the least!

  • Comment number 73.

    54. At 10:34 7th Mar 2012, We all follow United wrote:
    And on the other side, how bad were Milan? How they're top of Serie A if they've got performances like that in them is a mystery.


    Foot Gas Off me thinks!

  • Comment number 74.

    It totally baffles me why any Chelsea fan would claim to be in the "Anyone But Benitez" brigade? When Chelsea were at their absolute prime, Benitez took them apart in not one but two champions league semi finals, do Chelsea fans not remember this? Have they wiped it from their memory? Even on the semi final they beat us in it was only after a massive 4-4 draw which we scared the crap out of them for and at many points during the evening we were heading through.

    Benitez is a master and its criminal that he has been out of the game so long, the only thing I hope for is he doesnt grace Chelsea with his services, they dont deserve him, wait for Barca or Real Madrid Rafa, they are where you belong, Chelsea are rock bottom and deserve to stay there the way they treat their managers, they are a shambles of a club and are going backwards and if you dont get success in your first season the way you did at LFC you will be out the door faster than AVB and all Liverpool fans dont want to see that.

    Anyone But Benitez fans... how about Hodgson? Take him so that the FA rule him out of the England job, what about Steve Bruce, he's available.... Roy Keane.... Mick Mccarthy? All sacked recently oooh I have it, Gary Megson, thats the man you are waiting for.... wake up Chelsea fans at the moment you'll be lucky to get ANY manager let alone Benitez.....

  • Comment number 75.

    I cannot see why Mourinho would return to Chelsea. He was removed in the first place because the style of football was not entertaining enough for the owner. Has his whole tactical ideology changed in the last five or six years?

    From Moruinho's viewpoint, he will see that Chelsea is a vastly different club and team from the one he left. Lampard, Terry, Drogba and Cole are not the great forces they once were and they still haven't replaced Makelele who was a vital ingredient of the success when Mourinho was at the helm.

    I'd love to see Mourinho take the England job. It won't happen but he is the kind of manager that makes players believe. He is also tactically inventive and will happily be circumspect when the situation requires it. He will do well wherever he goes after Madrid but I don't see it being Chelsea.

    The big question is whether Mourinho would want to change the Chelsea team over the next few years. Would he want to put himself in the position of removing Terry, Lampard and Drogba? I think that is highly unlikely.

  • Comment number 76.

    #69 We all follow United

    Ha, ha, touche!

    Anyway, I've have heard one or two misgivings from Spurs fans saying that the bubble is bursting there. They see themselves struggling a bit now, Arsenal finding confidence and maybe a Chelsea bounce.

    How do you see the top four panning out come then end of the season?

  • Comment number 77.

    On Rafa, what I like best about this man is that when he took over Inter he said he needed backing + lot's of money to rebuild a team that had just done the treble. If you ask me he should manage England, he & English media deserve each other.

  • Comment number 78.

    Who are the Benitez lovers??

    He only acheived in cup competitions because for all but one year of the premier league his team were out of the running in Autumn.

    He was one of the only teams allowed the ease of resting all 11 players on the saturday for the wednesday night games.

    Benitiez was a hopeless manager.

  • Comment number 79.

    They could do a lot worse than Benitez who has form for winning cups.

    Most Liverpool supporters did not want him sacked to be replaced by Hodgson.

    Mourhino for England please, don't waste him at Chelsea.

    In fact - Redknapp to Chelsea???

  • Comment number 80.

    @45 it may be a relevant story, but this is the 4th blog on the Chelsea job and AVB only got sacked 4 days ago.....why doesnt the BBC's Chief Football writer write a blog on something else like last nights Arsenal game, Glasgow Rangers in administration and losing players, Newcastle's excellent season....there is more to Brittish football than just the "top 4" English clubs

  • Comment number 81.

    Difficult to say really. I do remember about a month or so ago the majority of media, pundits and fans had City to be 10 points ahead by now after the run of games we've had, pressure on them now looking at the fixture lists. I think Spurs will bounce back to honest, whilst they lost two in a row they were very hard games and they were missing key players against us. I still see fourth as a shoot-out between you and Arsenal and they appear to be playing better so I think it's in their hands. I don't see Chelsea putting a run together at the moment.

  • Comment number 82.

    73.At 10:46 7th Mar 2012, swindonbluearmy wrote:
    54. At 10:34 7th Mar 2012, We all follow United wrote:
    And on the other side, how bad were Milan? How they're top of Serie A if they've got performances like that in them is a mystery.


    Foot Gas Off me thinks!


    Agreed. They were totally complacent in the first half. The manager obviously spat some sense to them in half time and they then defended like a team top of Serie A in the second.

    If Arsenal had scored 4 in the first half, it may have been a different story but I had a feeling as soon as Milan got to half time with an aggregate lead, that would be the end of it.

    Great effort from the Gunners though. Only drawback being it brought back the usual bs from the scousers about how they're the comeback kings...yawn!

  • Comment number 83.

    Mourinho would have to be crazy to go back to Chelsea

  • Comment number 84.

    I'm really getting so tired of all the insightful commentators telling us what's going on in the Chelsea dressing room or the boardroom etc which always amounts to the dictatorial owner swayed by the work-shy prima-donna pensioners still playing on the back of past Mourinho glories, combining to sack managers on the merest fall of a grape. Firstly AVB had lost the dressing room and really good managers just don't do that, and as Ray Wilkins pointed out yesterday this idea of player power gone mad just doesn't fit with the 'lovely bunch of very hard working lads' he knew in his time there. Tactically AVB was naive in the extreme - the persistence with the high defensive line that turned the prems meanest defense into one of it's weakest, the mucking around with two continually high performing players like lamps and cole, the disasterous handling of Anelka and Alex, and it seemed Torres actually got worse under him as the fragile ressurgence in confidence he showed at the start of the season withered under the constant subbing etc. The team looked mis-shapen and uninspired and no wonder, listening to AVB rambling somewhat in the after match interviews - did he come over like that in the dressing room too? No, sorry, very nice chap, good manager in the making but completely out of his depth here, and hey presto they sack the poor fellow and we immediately look 5 times better and get a win in an awkward away leg to boot. Nuff said - shut up everyone, he had to go.
    Granted RA has made mistakes - Ancellotti being the main one, lost a very good man there, but to be fair, he may not have been the one to deliver the flair football we all want to see either. What Red Romulus wants is to see all the money he has put into this dream come to fruition - really exciting football played in an open and expansive way while winning absolutely everything every year - what's so wrong with that? Out there is a manager who can deliver this high standard given the bottomless resources to hand and it's only right that we should hire and fire every other mediocre one available until we find him - it's hardly the worst fate when you leave with a polite thank you and your pockets stuffed with rouples. Go Rom - I am right behind you and don't listen to the naysayers either mate, they're only jealous in the end!! Chelski - believe in the dream!!

  • Comment number 85.

    My vote goes for John Sitton.

  • Comment number 86.

    If Benitez had the same track record with a European club the Chelski fans would be clamouring for him - they just can't stomach an ex Liverpool manager.


    No vision. That's almost the table as it stands now.

    This is how it will end up:

    Man City
    Man Utd

  • Comment number 87.

    @80 but then you'd have people moaning about why the chief football writer isn't writing about other stories. You can't please all of the people all of the time. So there's no point moaning.

  • Comment number 88.

    Well i,m absolutely gutted here not about chelsea either.

    perhaps a more knowledgable Gooner can assist here.

    How can it be we begin most of the season without a recognised back four, then we get two back, two others then are out for weeks, they come back, two others are out for weeks, the season marches onwards and again the injures pile up, this time it to whole of the Midfield ! i am speechless as to just how many more seasons we can survive when so many of the players pick up injuries so quickly, just when was the last time Wenger had a full fit squad to choose from? and how is it, they seem to drop like bloody flies. and just what are the Medical Staff at Arsenal doing about it?

    as for the game itself, on one hand i want to be full of praise for the effort, but I now have serious questions as to why the performance in Milan was so woeful ! Milan are nothing to crow about ! and furthermore had it not been for the theatrics of that Ibrahimovitch, diving all over the floor, the Italians would have spent most of the second half in their own half as well.

    Gervinho and Walcott had a bad game, and we failed to capitalise of the glaring weakness of the Italian Defenders, it really should have been 7/8 nil to Arsenal.

    Again when we are riding high the Keeper begins to make blunders with his clearances and overall distribution putting the defence under pressure, he really needs to work on this part of his game, its quite atrocious at times and annoying.

    Why oh Why Mr Wenger was the performance in Milan so dire ?? just what where your preparations ?

  • Comment number 89.

    Benitez a hopeless manager? He won the spanish league twice with a team that wasnt Real or Barca, two champions league finals, FA Cup final, league cup final and a whisker away from Europa league final
    In the league he took LFC to second which is the closest any LFC manager has been to winning the damn thing since 1990, he was restricted in the last couple of seasons as to what he could buy and sell with but nearly all the players he bought he sold for profit, even rubbish like Voronin... free transfer recouped 3.5mill

    He took over an ageing Inter team that needed a massive overhaul (much like Chelsea do now) the problem was is Jose won the champions league in a poor season in it with an average team, Rafa just held the reigns at the wrong time, as I said in previous post Chelsea would be lucky to have him

  • Comment number 90.


    "as Ray Wilkins pointed out yesterday this idea of player power gone mad just doesn't fit with the 'lovely bunch of very hard working lads' he knew in his time there."

    And don't you think it's just a bit of a coincidence that Chelsea started nosediving right about the time Wilkins left...

  • Comment number 91.

    I can't see why Mourinho would leave one of the best clubs in the world for a second rate PL club in decline, the same applies to Guardiola. If RA is as clever as his millions suggest, he'd grab Benitez quickly

  • Comment number 92.

    Ha ha

    Chelsea gave Jose £250mil to spend last time and he had a 50% success rate on signings.

    Jose wouldn't be able to do things in the same way this time round unless Abramovich can come up with some bogus sponsorship deal like they have at Man City.

    The problem is chelsea make absolutely gigantic losses ever since Roman took them from obscurity into a totally artificial place in the top half dozen. Their ground is too small and the fans got one over on their benefactor by not selling him the pitch so he could build a new stadium

    It's all very funny and I would like to see them continue to sack their manager every year. I would also like to see them expelled from Europe on the back of their super massive losses. If Roman ran chelsea like a proper club, they wouldn't need a bigger ground as their attendances would return to 20000 average like they were 20 odd years ago.

  • Comment number 93.

    22 chizzle

    i agree with the sentiment of your post - i.e. the chelsea players do wield too much power at stamford bridge. However in the case of AVB, compared to say fergie, dalglish wenger etc, the issue was that he possibly hadn't done enough (in terms of having a credible CV) to earn their respect. In all walks of life, but particularly football (where open minded individuals are in particularly short supply), if someone is appointed to a senior position in an organisation and then isn't an instance success, that natural tendency is to query "what has this guy done to merit this job?".

  • Comment number 94.

    AVB, who i actually quite liked, was the wrong appointment for chelsea simply because it was one job too soon for him. i mean Mourinho is shining example of someone with no experience of playing as a professional footballer becoming a extremely successful manager, but they are few and far between. AVB, with only one (albeit very successful) years experience behind him, was always going to be up against it in the Chelsea dressing room (of all dressing rooms) if things didn't go well. He is the same age as some of the most potentially disruptive players, has never played professional football (let alone to a high level) and has only managed in the portuguese league and the UEFA cup. That is world away from the credibility Mourinho arrived with having won a champions league. It was always on the cards that the players at chelsea would start thinking "who is this bloke and why should i respect him?" rightly or wrongly i hasten to add.

  • Comment number 95.

    really abramovich (once again) has to shoulder the lions share of the blame for not foreseeing the likely outcome, or perhaps not backing the man he paid all that money for when it was inevitable he was going to have a rough ride to begin with

    ps - sorry for having to break my post up over several sections - this site doesn't like long posts...or my posts or too long. one of the two

  • Comment number 96.

    I could be completely wrong here and I'm happy to hold my hands up if so, but Chelsea could find themselves in serious trouble due to the UEFA financial rules coming in soon.

    Any new manager that comes in will have to splash Roman's cash in order to compete, the present team simply isn't good enough now, let alone in 6months time. So talk of Mourinho coming in and bringing Cristiano Ronaldo with him would surely cost, what, £100m if not more? I'm not sure how Chelsea would balance the books sufficiently to meet the financial regulations over a couple of years.

    Due to a few years of mismanagement at the top Chelsea now find themselves in a truly perilous position. They've got a number of average players, one or two up and coming good youngsters and a whole host of over-the-hill has beens, a bad mix at the best of times. When coupled with a chairman and fanbase that make unrealistic short term demands on any manager in charge and UEFA clamping down on the Man City/Chelsea model of spending more money than you make, they could be a team set for the wilderness for the foreseeable future.

    They've gone from a top two side in the country to now being, arguably, the third best team in London. The stadium does not allow for expansion in the same way that Arsenal have achieved in building the Emirates, nor Spurs with their plans for re-development of WHL or a move to the Olympic Stadium and they are at serious risk of losing out on the financial windfall of the Champions League.

    If i were a Chelsea fan i would not concern myself with who the next manager would be, i'd be looking more long term and the very bleak outlook for my side over the next couple of years.

  • Comment number 97.

    This sould be a a yearly thing, a phil mcnulty blog on a new chelsea manager!

    Only thing RA has done reallly (apart from the vast ammount of money) is warn off any manager wanting to run a club, the manager position at chelsea is so differnet to what most managers would be used to i.e Torres is rubbish, but as RA put that transfer through AVB was condemed to pay him, when he played rubbish it fell on AVB if AVB decided not to play Torres then RA wouldnt be too happy, impossible for him really

  • Comment number 98.

    Does no one else remember how truly awful Benitez was at Inter?

  • Comment number 99.

    #81 We all follow United

    Interesting thoughts. I won't go wild with predictions, but, this weekend I think:-

    Arsenal will win at home to Newcastle
    Spurs will only draw at Goodison
    Chelsea will win at home against Stoke

    That would leave:-

    Spurs - 54
    Arsenal - 52
    Chelsea - 49

    Arsenal then travel to Everton whilst Spurs host Stoke. I can see those being draws as well but it won't help Chelsea short term as they'll be in the cup that weekend.

    So, I don't think Chelsea will be in the top four for a few weeks at least which will bring it's own pressures.

  • Comment number 100.

    Redknapp to England, Mourinho to Spurs.

    What's all this love for Benitez? He won the CL with an inherited team at Liverpool and as mentioned by the few more astute posters here destroyed Mourinho's treble winning Inter Milan in a matter of months.

    He may have tactical knoweldge (winning the CL with Liverpool was a great accomplishment!), but he's proven at being unable to build teams. Something everyone here seems to agree is what's needed at Chelsea.


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