Chelsea fans' fury is more nuanced than Rafael Benitez - the Interim One - understands
Benitez spared unholy abuse at the Bridge as true Blues remain faithful to the team
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Monday 04 March 2013
So the great day of fury that some feared and all expected at Stamford Bridge never really came to pass; in south-west London the Circus Maximus it was not.
The lame-duck manager, who has attacked his own board and supporters, limps on to fight another day, and even he must have been surprised that Saturday's reception was not worse.
The chanting against Rafael Benitez was slightly louder than normal, but it was not sustained, and the support for the team at home was better than any time since he joined.
Even despite the talk of the arts and crafts wing of the Stamford Bridge faithful mobilising in the days after the interim manager's fateful pronouncements, it was hardly a sea of placards to match a Tea Party rally. The ones that were displayed followed a similar one to the chanting. You are only interim, we are here for the long term. One banner hung over the second tier of the Shed End read "Divided we fall #RafaOut".
A football writer had claimed that we were making Benitez's point. Yet the one divisive figure at the Bridge is the one in the dugout and his presence has drained the support's will to its lowest possible ebb. So the chanting was split between making our anger clear and fully backing the players.
The fans just want the Interim One gone and this season to end with a Champions League spot, so the damage caused this year does not turn into something more long-term. Saturday marked one game ticked off in the league; 10 more to go.
Chelsea fans are sick of rival supporters and writers in the media telling us that our anger is not directed at the right person, that Benitez is a good tactical manager and, haven't we made our point yet?
It is pretty rich that a fanbase that has widely been denounced as "plastic" in the Abramovich era has been pilloried for sticking rigidly to a principle that it believes is fundamentally damaging the club. And if the powers that be believe that they have escaped criticism, they are mistaken. Saturday perfectly summed up the extraordinary mix of emotions, which few rival clubs have ever experienced all at once.
So while the boos rang out, the fans wanted to show the players that we are still here. Still behind them, and to borrow from a certain D:Ream song, that things can only get better.
Nick Clark is a season-ticket holder at Stamford Bridge
New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain
By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning
Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study
Latest in Sport
Manchester City vs Manchester United combined XI: No place for Yaya Toure... or any United defenders
Sami Khedira transfer news: Arsenal can win the Premier League if they sign Khedira in January, says Perry Groves
Paul Scholes: At last! Some credit for Sam Allardyce
EXCLUSIVE: F1 heading for eastern revolution as new team emerges from Romania
Impressive Kurt Zouma may save Chelsea millions by replacing John Terry
- 1 'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it
- 5 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything