It’s funny to think of Rafa Benitez as a trophy-winning Chelsea manager…
At the time, they were almost our biggest enemies following the sporting rivalry that had built up during the mid-00s – and we can remember feeling pretty disappointed he’d taken the job.
Roman Abramovich only named him the interim boss though, which annoyed Rafa no-end and he completely failed to build up a rapport with Chelsea’s fans, who he thought were considerably worse than ours.
John Terry has explained how he he and Rafa simply didn’t get on – partly because his new manager wouldn’t stop going on about Liverpool!
“From a tactical point of view I was looking forward to working with him,” Terry recalled on Sky Sports’ Off Script show.
“You could say he was quite successful, we won the Europa League under him, of course, but for me personally you want to develop and learn.
“I’d seen tactically how he’d set up against us previously and stuff. Like everything, you give everyone a fair chance and it’s down to them to prove to you otherwise.
“We just didn’t get on from day one personally, to be honest.
“Every meeting we had it was, ‘Oh we used to do this at Liverpool and we did this’.
“You laugh but that’s what he used to be like, ‘Just move a yard here’. ‘I actually had to have a few conversations and say, ‘Gaffer, you have to forget Liverpool, you can’t keep saying ‘we’, you’re at Chelsea now, it’s not going down well with the lads’.
“We didn’t get on from day one, he left me out at certain times, I didn’t play much under him.”
Since Chelsea, Benitez has managed Napoli, Real Madrid, Newcastle and Chinese outfit Dalian Professional – where he’s still at now.
He’ll always be best known though for his time at Anfield, where he masterminded the Champions League win in 2005, the FA Cup win in 2006 and the run to another CL Final in 2007.
His team arguably peaked in 2008/09, a year in which we destroyed Manchester United, Real Madrid and plenty of others – but actually finished with no silverware.
2009 saw Xabi Alonso depart and upon his exit, our fortunes began to dwindle, resulting in Benitez’s departure and the dreaded appointment of Roy Hodgson.