When Rafa Benitez was the manager of Liverpool Chelsea were one of the teams at the top of the league and Rafa made some negative comments towards the team and the club.
The Blues fans have never forgotten that, and when Roberto Di Matteo was fired and replaced by Rafa at the end of November 2012, fans did not give him a good welcome.
At that time Rafa was told his job was to get Chelsea in the top four so they would qualify for the following season’s Champions League, and he was appointed only as the interim manager, although he was keen to get the job full time.
As it turns out Chelsea finished 3rd top of the league, so the primary goal was met.
But Rafa went on to win the Europa League in 2013 – the third club Rafa has won a European Trophy with.
Rafa Benitez – Newcastle manager conducts the orchestra
But the Chelsea fans – or at least a minor portion still don’t like him.
While he’s completely loved at Newcastle and if he wins the Europa League if he ever wins anything for the club – Chelsea fans will probably boo him today.
How’s that for gratitude?
Rafa has tried to explain that relations with those at the top at Chelsea like owner Roman Abramovich who has always rated Rafa were good.
The reports in 2013 were that Roman wanted to appoint him full time but realized he just couldn’t because of the Blues fans.
Here’s what Rafa said in his press conference on this yesterday:
“A group of fans weren’t good to me. And you can always hear those who were more vocal, it doesn’t mean they are the majority.”
“I can tell you, a lot of fans were happy with me. At the end, I had a lot of messages telling me I did really well.”
“All the feedback that I had from the professionals and the board was very positive. “They couldn’t manage with what happened with some fans.”
“Most fans realized the best way was to stay calm and let us do our job. “We achieved what they were expecting.”
“In the end, they had to decide and decided they had to change.” “Initially, he brought me to save the team and to achieve what we did achieve.”
“Afterwards, they thought they had to change, and they did.”
“It is important for anyone to be loved. As a professional, if you win, you are always loved. If you lose, it can be the opposite.”
“You just have to carry on doing what you think is best.” “The majority of clubs I was the manager at, it was fine, when you were winning.”
“Hopefully there will be a good atmosphere, it will be a great game and we can get three points.”
I think the fans will be fine. The normal fans who you can find on the streets were OK with me. “It was really positive – I have a lot of friends there.”
“My concern is the players always. You don’t compete against the manager, it depends on what we have or you have.”
“If you have the same things then you can compete against the manager. If you don’t have the same, then you have to do your best.”
“Sometimes if you are a little bit lucky and you play well then you can win.”
In 48 games managed at Chelsea, Rafa won 28, lost 10 and drew 10 for a win rate of 58.3%.
One of the reasons Rafa is happy at Newcastle is that we have 52,000 sold-out crowds every home game.
And last season in the Championship we had an average home gate of over 51,000 – the biggest second division average home crowd since way back 1959.
The other reason Rafa Benitez likes managing Newcastle United is our fans love him.
That makes a big difference.