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What now for Rafa Benitez after Chelsea make history?

Rafa Benitez with the Europa League trophy, after Chelsea defeated Benfica 2-1 with a last-gasp winner from Branislav Ivanovic

Rafa Benitez with the Europa League trophy, after Chelsea defeated Benfica 2-1 with a last-gasp winner from Branislav Ivanovic

Chelsea made history last night by becoming the first team to ever be the holders of both the Europa League and Champions League titles, after the Blues secured a dramatic 2-1 victory over Benfica in the Europa League final.

Drama

Chelsea seems to enjoy a touch of drama and never do anything the easy way.

With last night’s game heading towards extra-time centre-back Branislav Ivanovic headed home the winner to clinch the title for the Blues.

In truth, for much of the first half Rafa Benitez’s men were second best. They grew into the game slightly in the second half and managed to dig out a victory in true Chelsea style.

Trophy

The Europa League may not have been the trophy Blues fans were hoping to win at the start of the season, but it is a trophy nevertheless.

Other Premier League clubs would not have turned their nose up at winning Europe’s second tier trophy. The likes of Tottenham or Newcastle, who made it to the latter stages of the competition, definitely would not have moaned had their team won the trophy.

Decent

Interim Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez has done a decent job at Chelsea since replacing Roberto Di Matteo last year. The Spaniard was a very unpopular, not to mentioned controversial appointment considering his past run-ins with Chelsea and their fans.

The former-Liverpool boss has come in for some hefty stick in his tenure at Stamford Bridge, a lot of it unfair on the Spaniard. I am not Rafa’s biggest fan, but he has done an admirable job with the Blues.

If they also finish third and clinch an automatic Champions League qualification spot then his reign has to be thought of as successful. This season was always going to be a transitional one and the likes of Eden Hazard, Cesar Azpilicueta and Oscar will return as better players next season for the experience of playing in the Premier League this season.

Unknown

One man whose future is unsure is Rafa Benitez. The Spaniard’s previous position was at Italian giants Inter, where it is fair to say things did not quite go the way Benitez would have wanted. In fact, it turned into a downright nightmare.

The short-spell damaged the Spaniard’s reputation; Benitez could not win at Inter. He came in to replace Jose Mourinho, who had the season before claimed the treble of Scudetto, Champions League and Coppa Italia.

Benitez inherited an aging team and sacked after less than six months in charge of the Nerazzurri. His appointment as Chelsea boss was always going to be temporary and he was always going to use the job as a shop window for other clubs to appoint him, but he was done a decent job.

Unwelcome

Benitez was unwelcome at Chelsea, but he is being linked with another club where he would be far more unwelcome than Chelsea, that is Everton. I may be hung drawn and quartered for this, but I do not think Benitez would not be a terrible choice for next Everton boss.

His past as an ex-Liverpool boss seems to rule him out of that particular vacant. He made a jibe at Everton that they were a small club and made various other derogatory comments towards the Reds rivals from across the park.

Benitez also made derogatory comments about Chelsea, but that has not stopped him from getting the Blues job. Whether Benitez or Everton chairman Bill Kenwright would even consider the possibility is unknown.

Benitez would be the ideal candidate, which experience of managing in three of Europe’s major leagues, winning trophies, both at home and abroad. However, his past with Liverpool would probably rule him out of the running for the soon-to-be vacant managerial position at Goodison Park.

CV

Winning the Europa League has only added to Rafa Benitez’s already impressive CV and repaired some of the damage caused by his short stint in Italy with Inter. When Rafa Benitez leaves Stamford Bridge this summer there is no doubt he will find a new job, just maybe not in England.

End

With former-Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho set to return to Stamford Bridge this summer, Sunday’s home game with Everton will be Rafa Benitez’s last game in charge of the Blues. Chelsea will be looking to finish the season with a win.

Rafa Benitez’s stint at Chelsea has certainly done his career prospects no harm and no doubt he will go on to experience success in the future elsewhere.

Where will Rafa Benitez end up this summer?

Thu 16 May, 2013
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