It is a wonder Rafael Benitez has lasted this long in the madhouse of Roman Abramovich

Chelsea's interim manager is on the brink, but the situation says much more about the Blues' owner than the Spanish coach

Business as usual say Chelsea as the world awaits news of Rafa’s departure from Stamford Bridge. That could still mean he is gone by close of play today, as many predict, notwithstanding the fact he took training this morning. The unravelling of Benitez is a ridiculous commentary not on Chelsea’s Spanish coach, as capable as the next guru if his record is any guide, but on the owner Roman Abramovich.

Omnipotence is a feature that requires responsible management if the benefits of absolute power are to be harnessed effectively. But that is a bit like asking Caligula not to throw a party in ancient Rome. Since Abramovich is accountable to none but his own conscience he can do as he pleases. The results can be seen in the carcasses of coaches dismissed on a whim, some appointed at the height of fashion, others ushered in by fire engine.

Those he coveted, Mourinho, Scolari, Ancelotti, Vilas-Boas, fared no better than those holding the fort, the inherited Claudio Ranieri, Avram Grant, who missed out on the Champions League by the width of a post, and Roberto Di Matteo, who enjoyed the flip side of outrageous fortune to claim it. Only Gus Hiddink walked on his own terms, but then he was always going in May 2009 after being appointed in February.

Like all those fallen heroes before him Benitez believed it would be different this time. That was his mistake. The relationship between fans with their teams is a curious thing. It is an emotional attachment the kind of which is ordinarily set aside by grown men. Yet the tie between scarf and boot never really matures, remaining stuck in recurring adolescence.

In this puerile state do the majority supporters vent their spleen when things go wrong. Rafa’s crime? To beat Chelsea in three semi-finals, two in the Champions League, when in charge of Liverpool. Didums doos. Oh, and he also praised the ‘passion’ of the Kop citizenry, allowing the inference to be drawn that they were is some way more authentic, more valuable, superior to the those on The Shed.

If being the manager of Liverpool were not bad enough, Benitez took it upon himself to disagree with John Terry. Were you to weigh the sins of Terry against those of Benitez no fair minded bloke could come down in favour of the captain, leader, legend.  No matter how many moral misdemeanours Terry racked up, he was wearing a blue shirt at the time, so that’s all right. So Rafa offends on principle and in practice.

It is a wonder he has lasted this long in the madhouse of Abramovich, where principles are a matter of mood upstairs and colour-coded downstairs. Yet on he goes blowing his whistle on the training ground, preparing his team for the next match while Grant, or AN Other awaits a call to step in until the next Special One is beckoned.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen