Archive for the ‘Rivals’ Category

A Look Back At Rafa’s Reign

Posted: May 30, 2013 by GaryCRobertson in Benitez, Chelsea, facts, Legends, Rivals, stats

A drooping moustache reaches down to the finely trimmed goatee beard on the face of a plump man under pressure. Smartly dressed and seemingly emotionless on the outside, he ignores the direct taunts of negativity that are being channelled his way. He won’t have to put up with this for too long.

Rolling back the clock, it’s mid November 2012 and a club legend, Roberto Di Matteo, manager of the winning Chelsea side who battled to victory in the Champions League, has been shockingly sacked. Distraught, Chelsea fans far and wide, wish Di Matteo all the best and even more, after such a historic underdog journey to Munich and back again.

The worst is yet to come as former Liverpool manager, Rafa Benitez takes the reigns of the Chelsea side in the form of interim manager. Comments are churned up from his managerial past, a time when Benitez had publicly blasted Chelsea in the media about a number of things he felt distasteful.

“Rafa Out”, one of the most commonly used phrases regarding Chelsea FC’s managerial situation would refuse to go away. Some fans were more interested in expressing their disapproval to Benitez’s controversial appointment rather than urging the team on to win. The striking resemblance to an overweight Spanish waiter and Al from Toy Story 2 didn’t help matters. An instant but somewhat understandable hatred towards Benitez was born. Replacing a club legend with a former rival manager is never going to be an easy transition.

It’s easy to think that Benitez could have done a whole lot better with what he had at his disposal but it is crucial to appreciate that Chelsea were involved in 8 competitions this season. Obviously 3/8 of those competitions were only a game or two (for example Super Cup) but a competition nonetheless.

In terms of Benitez’s reputation, I came across some interesting statistics:

At Inter Milan, Benitez had a win percentage of 48%.

At Liverpool, Benitez had a win percentage of 56%.

At Valencia, Benitez had a win percentage of 54%.

At Tenerife, Benitez had a win percentage of 50%.

Now, this is the delightful one.  At Chelsea, Benitez managed around 48 games. 28 wins, 10 draws and 10 losses. In the process, the Chelsea team scored 99 goals and conceded 48. In percentage terms, that is a 58% win percentage which you’ll notice is higher than all other teams listed that Benitez has managed in his career. Not too bad for Rafa, eh?

This week, Benitez has departed and gone to Italy to manage Napoli, where already there is an apparent excitement about his appointment. (Just type in “Benitez Napoli figurines” in Google images and you’ll see what I mean)

What did you think about Benitez’s tenure as Chelsea manager? Let me know or tweet me @GaryCRobertson.


Another Backing For Torres

Posted: January 16, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, Rivals, Torres, Transfers

Harry Redknapp, I’m not a huge fan of him but his recent comments regarding Fernando Torres are worth sharing:

“I think Torres is starting to look the player that we all know he can be, the player he was at Liverpool – he is a top player no doubt about it.”

It’s encouraging for a manager from a different club, albeit a horrible rivalling club, to speak positively on Torres considering there are so many who jump on the slating bandwagon. For this, I am grateful to Redknapp for the first, and possibly the only, time…ever.

When we think Spurs, we now think about Modric moving to Chelsea. A saga that really should have finished a while ago. There were rumours doing the rounds that a potential Modric-Torres swap deal was in the balance but Redknapp put that false information to bed by saying:

“There is no way [Torres] is coming to Tottenham and no swap deal is in the offing for Luka Modric, I think Chelsea will get the best out of him [Torres].”

That’s that then. Surely the Modric rumours will cease from here on in?


As I’m sure you’re all aware, there has been a spate of headlines this transfer window saying Chelsea need to overhaul thesquad and make wholesale changes soon before the bulk of the squad retires. According to the media, (real Chelsea lovers that they are) we have been in for every player that has kicked a ball since the Second World War. Not one to get caught up in their self-created hype, I decided it’s time to look at the realities of it all.

Comparing the first 11’s of the top 5 teams who I believe will be challenging next season, using a standard 4-4-2 formation, let’s see who’s team looks the strongest and who really does need strengthening:


Man U: De Gea

Chelsea: Cech

Man C: Hart

Arsenal: Szczesny

Liverpool: Reina

This is probably the strongest position with two truly world class keepers in Cech and Reina, two keepers who look like they will be top of their profession within a couple of years in De Gea and Hart and then the much maligned Szczesny who has more ability than he’s given credit for.

Verdict: Cech

Right Back:

Man U: Rafael

Chelsea: Ivanovic

Man C: Richards

Arsenal: Sagna

Liverpool: Johnson

World class right backs are few and far between these days and the position has evolved so much since the days of Lee Dixon who need an oxygen tank if he crossed the half way line. Full backs are so important in the modern game and Rafael has all the qualities to be one of the best. However, he’s a long way off just yet. Richards is hit and miss, as is Johnson. Sagna has failed to impress since his first season and Ivanovic is rock steady at the back but maybe not so much a marauding type.

Verdict: Ivanovic

Left Back:

Man U: Evra

Chelsea: Cole

Man C: Kolorov/Clichy

Arsenal: Gibbs

Liverpool: Aurelio

Probably the easiest choice of the lot. The only player who gets anywhere near Ashley Cole is Patrice Evra, but he’s still a league apart. Quite simply, Cole is the world’s best left back.

Verdict: Cole

Centre Backs:

Man U: Ferdinand/Vidic

Chelsea: Terry/Luiz

Man C: Kompany/Lescott

Arsenal: Vermaelen/Squillaci

Liverpool: Carragher/Agger

This is a tough one to call as there are a number of world class options here. Chelsea and Man U have four top class options available, together with Kompany and Vermaelen. Carragher was never in the sames league as these guys, as much as the Scousers would like to think otherwise and the same goes for Lescott and Agger. The jury is still very much out on Squillaci. The two I have chosen are there for their leadership and presence along with the fact that they are outstanding defenders.

Verdict: Vidic and Terry


Part 2 will follow shortly with the midfield and forwards selections. What do you think so far? Do you agree?


Article by Derek O’Rourke

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