Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has spoken positively about his previous stint managing Chelsea. In November 2012, the Blues appointed the Spaniard as their interim boss until the end of the 2012/13 season following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.
He led the Blues fairly successfully as they ended up finishing third in the Premier League as well as winning the Europa League during that season. Benitez arrived at the Blues when he had a mixed reputation. Many fans of the club felt that he should never have been appointed after his stint with Liverpool ended off badly and he had an unsuccessful stint with Inter Milan thereafter.
Benitez’s current contract with Newcastle United expires at the end of this season and his future remains a mystery as he has yet to agree to fresh terms with the Toon Army. He has done a splendid job at the helm of the Magpies since becoming their manager in 2016. He may have been unable to save the club from relegation when he was appointed while they were in deep trouble during the 2015/16 season, however he led them back to the top-flight the following season and has managed to keep them in the top-flight ever since despite having had to work on a very tight budget.
“Some fans or maybe some players were not happy but the majority of them were fine so my memories of Chelsea are quite positive,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast.
“There’s a lot of fans but I always say the same. At the beginning there were not too many [negative comments], then there were more of them but the majority of them were fine.
“The crucial game was against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup. We beat them 2-0 away and then I gave an interview and said ‘I’m a professional, I will do my job, I will try to do the best for Chelsea and you don’t need to complain about me because I will leave at the end of the season’.”
If Chelsea do end up sacking Maurizio Sarri this summer, they should seriously consider a move for Benitez. If one thing is certain, he has the ability to work with limited resources and deliver. The Blues may need a manager who can do just that ahead of next season amidst their transfer ban.
Another impressive thing about Benitez is the fact that he has character, many clubs would have walked away from Newcastle amidst the instability of the club behind the scenes. Rafa, however, has stuck with them.