Jose struggles highlight Benitez ability

Rich Kitto believes the unspectacular results of Chelsea under Jose Mourinho put into perspective the good job done by Rafa Benitez.

Last Updated: 21/11/13 at 15:40 Post Comment

Jose Mourinho: Not found it easy going back at Chelsea

Jose Mourinho: Not found it easy going back at Chelsea

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Charisma versus composure, adoration versus detestation, permanent versus part time, José Mourinho versus Rafa Benitez.

Two men that seemingly don't share a lot in common besides their mutual distaste for one another, but once again stand shoulder to shoulder when it comes to analysing the start of the Special One's second coming at Stamford Bridge.

After all, in a week where Germany stepped out at Wembley to tame the Three Lions, and England travelled to Australia to retain a precious urn, it's befitting to mention two men who have done battle in numerous guises, and on many occasions.

The international break, whilst a major cause of nuisance for those that plan their weekends around the domestic leagues, gives time for us to sit back and consider the starts that our teams have made.

Fans of Arsenal, Liverpool and Southampton have reason to be cheerful as we enter the festive period, whilst across at Manchester there's plenty of food for thought round the dinner table.

Supporters of Chelsea, meanwhile, could probably file their opening as 'reasonable if unspectacular'.

Two points away at United and Spurs combined with victories over City in the league and Arsenal in the Capital One Cup demonstrate strong resilience against the other top teams - but a return of a single point in November so far gainst Newcastle and West Brom is not good enough for a team expecting to challenge for the title.

From their first 11 Premier League games of the season, Mourinho's Blues have amassed 21 points from six wins, three draws and two defeats, with a goal difference of +10. Not amazing, but certainly enough to keep the fans on side.

In comparison, Benitez began his reign as Chelsea manager with a draw against Manchester City, league leaders at the time, before beating Arsenal at home after an 8-0 mauling of Aston Villa. Though he did oversee an extremely poor home defeat to QPR and an equally disappointing defeat at West Ham.

That was not a good enough start in the eyes of the Chelsea faithful, who were desperate to get rid of the man from Spain, and certainly made him and everyone else well aware of that.

That being said, his opening 11 results read as follows: Won six, drawn three, lost two - 21 points with a +14 goal difference. Go figure.

Of course, as the cliché goes, you can make statistics tell whatever story you like, but in the words of Benitez himself - we are talking facts.

There is a case to be made that Mourinho has had a tougher fixture list to date than Benitez when comparing like for like, but the Special One has had two significant benefits that the interim one did not - the ability to craft his own squad, combined with the complete support of the fans.

Both are extremely powerful and influential factors over a team's performance. Whereas Benitez had to make do (said loosely when considering the quality at his disposal at the time), Mourinho was given significant money to invest and reshape the team that the Spaniard left him.

Outgoings included deadwood in the shape of Florent Malouda, Paulo Ferreira and Yossi Benayoun among others, bringing in roughly £8millillion, whilst in came Willian, Samuel Eto'o, Andre Schurrle and Marco Van Ginkel for an outlay of around £66million.

It's fair to say that none of them have set the league alight yet. Whilst the natural response is that players from overseas require time to settle and adjust to the ways of English life, plenty of other stars have come from aboard and instantly performed, and such lengthy phases cannot be afforded when you have a £30millillion price tag attached to your head.

The purchases of three attacking midfielders appears a peculiar decision, from the outside at least, when considering the depth of talent in that position already at the club.

The rumours were awash before Mourinho was even confirmed as Chelsea manager that he didn't like Juan Mata, and they appear to have rung true as, despite being named Chelsea player of the season by fans in the last two years, the playmaker is finding himself in and out of the team, much to the angst of the home supporters.

Under Benitez Mata flourished, playing with the freedom that someone of his ability loves. Benitez also nurtured the explosive talents of Eden Hazard and Oscar, and managed to get some consistency out of David Luiz.

Of course Benitez had his flaws, and it's no real surprise that Chelsea fans never forgave him for making those disparaging comments about them whilst in charge of Liverpool, whilst naturally Mourinho deserves the adulation and patience that his past successes has given him.

The team's next five league fixtures are certainly all winnable - West Ham (A), Southampton (H), Sunderland (A), Stoke (A) and Crystal Palace (H) - so the Blues could well be heading into their away game against Arsenal on December 23 higher up the table, having also secured qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

However, they say time is a great healer so perhaps some the Chelsea faithful can now look back on Benitez's time in charge of the club and appreciate the good things he did.

After all, Thursday marks a year to the day that Roberto Di Matteo was dismissed and the Spaniard took over. At that point a decision was made to sack the Italian as results weren't deemed good enough.

Yet on November 21, 2012 Chelsea were four points off the top of the league. It's funny what reputation can do for you.

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