Date: 1st December 2017 at 10:57pm
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This weekend see the return to Stamford Bridge of one of our former managers (interim) in the form of one Rafael Benitez. He brings his Newcastle United side to London and the reception he receives on Saturday as he enters the pitchside area will be a vociferous one.

Prior to his arrival at Chelsea, following the sacking of Roberto di Matteo in 2012, the ‘interim one` had a war of words with the ‘special one` that frequently boiled over into feud that enveloped both Chelsea and Liverpool.

The starting point for the animosity was in 2005 and Luis Garcia`s ‘ghost goal` which saw Chelsea knocked-out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage in 2005. Jose Mourinho and Chelsea`s support, rightly reacted badly. The fact that the two managers disliked each other, rubbed off onto the supporters of both Liverpool and Chelsea.

The two clubs never considered each other to be rivals, until Jose and Rafa, with their dislike of each other created it. Coincidentally, the two clubs were often drawn against each other in domestic and European competitions, in that mid-noughties period, ramping up the rivalry even more.

Benitez criticised Didier Drogba for relentlessly diving, that was bad enough, but then he made it personal. He said Liverpool fans didn`t need plastic flags (given out on Champions League nights at the Bridge) to support his team. He exacerbated that by saying he`d never manage Chelsea, because of his Liverpool connection. However, he did say the Blues were a big club, with great players.

Benitez was obviously saying the anti-Chelsea things to ingratiate himself with his own supporters, which manager wouldn`t. Once he became Chelsea`s manager, those things could have been forgotten, but the timing was all wrong.

To replace a Chelsea great, in di Matteo with Benitez was a PR disaster for club. Once again the hierarchy were culpable. With his foot in the door, Benitez could have quietly gone about the job. He didn`t though, he chose to set about rocking the boat by dropping John Terry and Frank Lampard.

It was all adding up to a disastrous spell of management. In typical Chelsea style though, they pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Despite all the animosity that the Spaniard received, Chelsea got to the final of the Europa League, which they won by beating Benfica.

That victory made Chelsea the only team to ever hold the Champions League trophy at the same time as the Europa League. So, Benitez`s legacy at Chelsea was to give them a unique piece of footballing history, something that he probably still regrets.

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