From top to bottom

December 9, 2012




Ken Masters



With the transfer window opening in a few weeks time, clubs will want to bring players in to either boost Euro qualifying places or promotion at the top or to take themselves out of relegation places at the bottom. We are well used to seeing scalps at the bottom end of league positions but changes at the top end are less common, unless you are at Chelsea that is. The sacking of Roberto Di Matteo was not a surprise to me; even after clinching European glory in Germany last season it took what seemed an age before he was entrusted with the manager’s job on a permanent basis.

If publicity is always a good thing, then Chelsea have this in abundance with just about every football website reporting and commenting on the sacking and the appointment of Rafael Benitez to the South London hot seat.

BBC Sport and many other main stream and alternative web sites were keen to take the fans’ view and turned to Trizia Fiorellion who is Chair of the Chelsea Supporters Group. This is the up front quote:

“Benitez isn’t popular and he will remain unpopular throughout his reign. We want the powers that be to realise we didn’t want him.”

Benitez was jeered in his technical area the throughout the high profile televised home game against Manchester City.

Following the 0-0 draw, Benitez said that he wanted to change the perception of the fans by winning games. Quite so Rafael, I have learned in football it is the only way; lose a game and the club is mismanaged from top to bottom. Win a couple or three and the club is in safe hands.

The wider picture and the benefits of longevity are seldom the focus unless of course you want to be there or thereabouts season after season like Manchester United and Arsenal; still the two biggest clubs in the country in my view. Look at Crewe Alexandra too, consistency and continuity has done the hitherto unfashionable Cheshire club no harm over the years, on the contrary.

This is how the website editor Phil McNulty saw it after the City Game:

“However much Benitez claimed he turned a deaf ear to his reception on Sunday, nothing could have prepared him for the sound and fury that greeted him as he made his way through the tunnel to his place in the technical area prior to kick off. “Chelsea have lost most of their capacity to surprise – but the venom aimed at Benitez carried an edge that was a shock even to those expecting the frostiest of welcomes.”

So there you have it, Chelsea have lost their capacity to surprise. That could be the case Phil but you can’t argue at the publicity angle what with the referee fiasco in a previous game. No surprises, but still making the headlines. Why the anti Benitez stance? Well, all to do with what Rafael said whilst he was manager at Liverpool; Didier Drogba, flags, the passion of Liverpool fans and so on. Managers need to be the masters of PR these days, for sure, even if they can’t see into the future.


“For sure” Who says that? Hello Harry and welcome back to Premier League management and in London no less. Now, surely this is not a surprise. Football League club or even an overseas international managers job, now what was all that about? More from Phil:

“Harry Redknapp’s golf clubs can go back in the bag. The biggest handicap he must deal with now is the one Mark Hughes has left behind at Queens Park Rangers.”

 “Redknapp has used his deteriorating golf as a light hearted vehicle to state his desire to return to the technical area following his surprise sacking by Tottenham Hotspur this summer after taking them to fourth place in the Premier League.”

“Now, after a spell as a Match of the Day pundit he is back in business and walking into a familiar situation as he settles into his new surroundings at Loftus Road.”

So what is so familiar for Harry? When Redknapp left Portsmouth to succeed Juande Ramos at Tottenham in October 2008, Spurs were four points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League, an identical scenario which greets him at QPR. Spurs had only two points from their first eight games while QPR have four from their first 12 matches and are without a win this season.

Redknapp eventually guided Spurs to eighth place and into their first Champions League campaign less than two years later. As McNulty says, QPR owner Tony Fernandes will not request such riches from Redknapp. He would almost certainly settle instantly for 17th place.

Isn’t that right Harry, and good luck.


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