When I clicked on a link promising me 'former Liverpool manager backs Rafael Benitez to win the Premier League with Chelsea', I was expecting a fluff piece talking about how great Benitez is from a former protege. Instead, I actually found something rather disconcerting:
I didn’t need to be told how wonderful I was all the time. There are some players these days who always want to be told how great they are, but you won’t get that from Rafa. The biggest vote of confidence a manager can give you is picking you, because if you’re in the team you’re doing something right. I thought he was brilliant, one of the best. He didn’t always explain to players why they were being dropped and some didn’t like that, but it wasn’t a problem for me.
We've seen this before, of course. Andre Villas-Boas was a highly regarded tactician with a habit of treating players as soulless automatons, winding them up and letting them go on the field but refusing to effectively communicate with them otherwise. That didn't work at Chelsea, and as soon as results started going wrong large swathes of the dressing room turned against the young manager.
I am worried -- extremely worried -- about Benitez's managerial style and how it might fit in with the current squad. Most of the perpetrators of the Villas-Boas drama are still around, and it's very easy to see a repeat occurring. That said, there were reports of a lack of squad coherency even in the hotel before the Juventus game, so it's entirely possible that di Matteo's famous motivational skills had failed him as well.
Ultimately, emotions to one side, Benitez isn't a bad manager, and he should be able to steady the ship for the rest of the season. But this is... yeah, it's a worry, and if Chelsea hit another bad spell you could easily see them completely blowing up.
Fun times ahead!