Rafa Benitez is an odd dude.
The Chelsea interim manager, who since arriving at Stamford Bridge has been constantly berated by supporters due to his past links with Liverpool, has expressed his desire to return to Anfield after his stint at Chelsea has concluded.
Following the controversial sacking of Roberto Di Matteo in November 2012, massive groups of Chelsea supporters launched into protests against Benitez’s appointment. The protests were based on comments the Spaniard made about Chelsea during his time as Liverpool manager.
One comment concerned Benitez’s praise of the passion of Liverpool fans, which included a sideways dig at Chelsea supporters. Instead of apologizing for his past comments Benitez refused to do so, claiming “I was praising the fans of my club, my team. But I’m here now, it’s my club, and I will do my best for them.”
The abuse persisted and still continues today although the Spanish manager admits it has abated of late. “There are not so many protests from the fans against me, we all know about four or five banners that have always been there but that’s a group of fans that is more worried about my past at Liverpool than actually criticizing me for my work or our play, and I can’t change that.”
Perhaps he couldn’t have changed it but he definitely could have contained it. Following his interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, however, that option is out the window. When asked what he wanted to do when his time at Chelsea was up the Spaniard explained how he would like to manage a competitive team in England. “We have to wait and see,” Benitez said. “I will return to Liverpool one day almost certainly, I just don’t know when, my daughters and wife are still living there.”
Granted, he gave himself an out by saying “almost” but it’s still unclear why Benitez choose now to unleash these remarks.
For months he’s suffered verbal abuse and only recently – having gotten Chelsea to 3rd in the table, the quarter-finals of the Europa League and the semi-finals of the FA Cup – has it receded. To come forward and proclaim his desire to return to Liverpool feels inflammatory and just plain daft, especially considering Chelsea’s upcoming visit to Anfield on April 21st.
One thing’s for sure – the comments will have Brendan Rodgers just as fired up as the Chelsea fans.