Life after Chelsea for Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez’ exit from Stamford Bridge was always inevitable, rant or no rant, but where will the Spanish boss find his next job once he vacates the Chelsea hot-seat?

Rafa Benitez may have brought forward his departure from West London this week with his explosive tirade at both the Chelsea supporters and the club’s hierarchy in what has been an incredibly turbulent marriage for the two parties which always looked set for divorce ever since Rafa uttered the words “I do” to Roman Abramovich.

Benitez had rejected Abramovich’s previous advances for his services prior to his ‘interim appointment’ in November of last year, citing his wishes to be at the helm of a long term project as opposed to becoming a stop gap measure in the Chelsea set-up. However, Benitez had remained out of employment for almost two years since his sacking from Inter Milan after only a little over six months at the San Siro.

It is alleged that Benitez also rejected overtures from Sampdoria, Schalke and a number of English Premier League sides believing them to be unable to match his ambitions of challenging with Europe’s elite before jumping at the opportunity to get back into management with Chelsea last November.

Benitez’ record at Stamford Bridge – the Spaniard shares the lowest win percentage of any Chelsea manager under Roman Abramovich with Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas – coupled with two of the highest profile defamatory outbursts in recent Premier League history may have somewhat tarnished his reputation in English football. Benitez bases himself and his family in England however it remains doubtful that his next employer will be in the English game.

Benitez is currently third favourite at 14/1 to become the next Real Madrid manager behind Carlo Ancelotti and Brian Laudrup and a return to La Liga appears to be the most likely option for the current Chelsea boss. Last month Benitez, a former Real Madrid player, claimed that the Spanish giants were his ‘first love’ sparking rumour that he will be the man to replace Jose Mourinho this summer who looks set for an inevitable exit from the Bernabeu.

However, Benitez may be wary about once again stepping into the shoes of ‘The Special One’ having done so before in Milan. The spine of that Inter team is believed to have remained loyal to Mourinho – the man who led them to a Champions League and Serie A double in the previous season – upon Benitez’ appointment, resulting in the fomer Liverpool boss’s failure to replicate the successes of his Portuguese counterpart in Italy.

It appears that Mourinho has been unable to create the same close-knit dressing room atmosphere in Madrid that he managed to at the San Siro however and the opportunity for Rafa Benitez to manage his boyhood heroes may be too tantalising for him to turn down.

Should Real Madrid opt to pursue an alternative target, it remains unclear where Benitez will end up. The man who guided Liverpool to their fifth European Cup victory in 2005 is believed to retain his ambition to manage an elite European club at the highest level, although a return to former club Valencia cannot be ruled out.

With the 2014 World Cup fast-approaching, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to see Benitez try his hand on the international stage, perhaps with an African or Asian side in a bid to re-build his ailing stature within the game.

Rafa Benitez’ future employment may appear uncertain, but given his recent failings at Stamford Bridge, it would certainly be surprising to see Benitez take a seat in a Premier League dugout at the start of next season.