After his short spell ends as interim manager of Chelsea at the end of the season, Rafa Benitez has said he wants to stay in England, stating “I would go to Italy or France or Spain but this is my No 1 choice.” However, I don’t see any club in England who he could take over, and if he doesn’t want a two-year absense from management again, which I’m guessing he won’t, Spain may be the right choice for him as Mourinho will be returning to Chelsea, and Pellegrini should be leaving Malaga.
Rafa can win trophies. He knows how to get the job done. During his time with Valencia, he won La Liga in two consecutive seasons, and also a UEFA Cup, before moving to England with Liverpool.
His time at Liverpool saw him win the UEFA Champions League in his first season, and an FA Cup in his second. His last major trophy as a manager.
He would go on to take over at Inter Milan in 2010, but after just 6 months, left the club due to differences with the board, and it would see him having a lenghy absense from the game. Returning in December to take temporary charge of Chelsea.
His time at Chelsea has been a success, as he’s all but reached a UEFA Champions League place, and will play Benfica in the final of the UEFA Europa League on May 15th in Amsterdam.
If he wins that, he adds yet another trophy to his CV, and I believe it would make him a wanted man for big clubs, as he deserves that, and is good enough for a top team, but with limited options as most big teams have a secured manager in place. He may have to take 6 months out, and see how it plans out for teams like Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG, Man City, and how well they do in Europe. Surely with Man City losing the FA Cup Final against Wigan, and losing out in the Champions League group stage for a second season, Mancini will be on radar. Whether City will be interested in Rafa is another thing, as Pellegrini is a reported successor should Mancini go.
Benitez has hailed his time at Chelsea as a “100 per cent success” after clinching Champions League football, which was his objective when Abramovich brought him in, much to the displease of Chelsea fans, although I believe it was unfair as to how he was treated as soon as he walked in the door at Chelsea.
He’s brought stability to the team, giving young players like Cesar Azpilicueta and Victor Moses chances, and making them first-team members. Azpilicueta praised Benitez for helping his game by stating “He taught me about positioning, tactics, reading the game, the best way to do the right things.” And it’s showed in the right-backs performances, as he’s claimed that position and showed glimpses of the player he’ll be. But he hasn’t quite had the same impact on Fernando Torres, as he did when both were at Liverpool as the striker is still misfiring, and could be heading out in the Summer.
Benitez has played 45 games as Chelsea manager since he started in December, with 25 in the league, winning 14 games, and losing just 5. With Rafa helping Chelsea reach a top 4 finish, and the final in the Europa League, he should be guaranteed a top job elsewhere. However, what’s next for him, we will need to wait and see.