Football: Those supporters who had gone to the effort of creating banners to vent their fury at Rafa Benitez perhaps hadn’t considered too much where Chelsea go from here if they let the Spaniard go.
After all, what would any late-season replacement for the current Chelsea interim manager achieve that Benitez cannot?
Of course, that’s before we even consider who would be foolhardy enough to step in. Benitez is wily enough to have thought this over before criticising the club’s fans and hierarchy last week.
“I’m really pleased with the performance of the team,” said the Spaniard, wearing a broad, all-knowing smile, after his side eased to victory over West Bromwich Albion.
“We had a lot of attempts, played very good football, the atmosphere was good. I would say that I was pleased with the fans behind the team and the players played with more confidence.”
If it’s a popularity contest, the former Liverpool boss loses hands down. However the players seem to be playing for him and, though it’s not the type of thrilling football Chelsea fans had hoped for, the likes of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard seem to be working well together.
The only goal of the match came from Demba Ba, who netted in the first half. It was enough to settle this rather tame match. Chelsea rarely looked troubled.
The margin of victory would have been considerably different had it not been for the inspired efforts of visitors’ goalkeeper Ben Foster, who pulled off a series of fine saves to deny Chelsea’s attackers.
At the other end West Brom offered little. They had a few opportunities at the end of the match, but a point apiece would not have seemed fair given the manner in which Chelsea dominated this match.
Chelsea travel to Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League this week before Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
For West Brom manager Steve Clarke, the target remains to better last season’s 10th-placed finish in the league.