Rafa Benitez Joins Chelsea

Liverpool FC

The former Liverpool manager will take charge at Stamford Bridger after Roberto Di Matteo was swiftly ushered out of the manager's seat, giving the London club their third manager in a year.

I'm feeling uncomfortable feelings:

Chelsea Football Club can confirm Rafael Benitez has been appointed interim first-team manager until the end of the season.

The owner and the Board believe that in Benitez we have a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives.

The 52-year-old Spaniard is due to meet the players at the training ground in Cobham tomorrow.

Chelsea. Rafa Benitez is the new manager at Chelsea. Interim, permanent, temporary, whatever.

Forced out by clueless owners and an equally incompetent management team at Liverpool over two years ago--explained as mutual consent, as these things always are, in what was forcibly made an untenable situation--the Spaniard makes his return to the Premier League with a club that few could have pictured him ever managing. The famous Champions League ties, the matchups with Jose Mourinho--Benitez is now the opposite number, and the man who'll lead Chelsea at Anfield on April 20th. If he lasts that long.

Liverpool supporters who aren't quick to talk transfer deals and Gerard Houllier and rants will likely feel bittersweet about the news, as most wished him well wherever he ended up, but that it's at Chelsea makes those well-wishes feel hollow. The possibility of Benitez coming back to the Premier League was nice enough in theory, and perhaps a little scary given the chance that he'd end up at one of the league's more talented--or financially gifted--clubs. In Chelsea he's ostensibly got both, and interim or not, there's potential for things to go frighteningly well. At least until Pep Guardiola wants back in.

The identity of his new employers doesn't change what he did at a deeply difficult time with Liverpool, and those quick to erase his achievements or discredit them because of today's news are misguided at best and certainly no better than those who've got the narrative loop built by the London media playing on repeat. He was class for Liverpool and will be remembered as such, and there's no reason to believe he'll handle himself any differently at Chelsea regardless of the type of reception he receives.

Good luck or something, Rafa. Hope this is a stepping stone to a more permanent return to managing, and that it's at some point very successful.

Now, off to eat and drink those uncomfortable feelings into oblivion.

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