By Alex Netherton & Andi Thomas

Rumours that this column is a day late is due to a very, very poor excuse involving a “…broken boiler that means we can’t write just yet, honest, Richard. Yes, I suppose we don’t live in the same flat and that doesn’t really work, but, the phone line is breaking up, it’s *chhrrrrrrrrrrrrrr* *hangs up*” are just that. Really, we wanted to include the struggle of the ages. That is, of course, Manchester United versus Chelsea in the FA Cup. And what a match! Mr Rafael Benitez has made his dash for dignity, and by Jove he has got it. Let’s review just how it came to pass.

1. Couldn’t properly fit into the Chelsea blazer

A lot of us work out. A few of us even work out with some pretty intimidating weights. Boy, I’ve got sore lats as I type this just from the extensive workout I’ve been putting my torso through. Tuesday, it’s arms and back. It’s boring, but it’s part of my life. Benitez is the same. In the years of unemployment, he kept himself in fine physical and mental shape. Mentally? He launched blog. If there’s anything that screams dignity, it’s an out-of-work manager launching a blog to let the world know his views.

It’s just a shame nobody else wants to hear them and that the image of Benitez sitting typing in his pants was more pervasive than anything he actually wrote. Physically, he put on so much mass, he was like a Spanish Rob Mcelhenney. He deliberately came back physically imposing, so much so that a couple of weeks ago Alex Ferguson was too scared to approach him to shake his hand. There’s an exclusive for you, tossed to the audience with all the enthusiasm you have the right to expect. Now, of course, he can fit into the blazer, because he’s lost weight. Sorry, I mean he’s had the jacket altered. When Rafael Benitez is at a club, he even micromanages the seamstress.

2. Blamed the board for giving him a job that he accepted

A lot of us don’t really make sense. A few of us even get recorded not making sense. Boy, I’m not making sense right now as I type this, from the extensive need to make sure I reach the word limit. Football writing—it’s boring but it’s part of my life. Benitez is the same. Having taken the job offered to him by Chelsea, he then went on to complain about the job offered to him by Chelsea that he took. In that moment as he attacked the Chelsea board who ultimately decide whether he keeps his job, he ensured that he would almost definitely not keep his job after the summer. If dignity is anything, it is a middle-aged man, off the back of years of unemployment, complaining about his circumstances. Much like we do every week in this column.

3. Gave the finger to Chelsea fans

A lot of us don’t like the general public. A few of us even say it in public: I hate the general public. Boy, I’m hating the general public (I’m looking at you) as I type this, and I’m getting angrier and angrier thinking about the inevitable comments section from our ‘community.’ Benitez is the same, although his hatred is focused on the following: Chelsea fans, Alex Ferguson, Christian Purslow and Sam Allardyce. Rafael Benitez doesn’t like Chelsea fans, and that’s fine, since many Chelsea fans are awful, awful people. Chelsea fans quite reasonably don’t like Rafael Benitez. He took care of them in the Champions League with Liverpool, and he also promised and delivered some truly miserable football at Stamford Bridge. Where Benitez got his dignity back was in his masterstroke of taking a job at Chelsea, where he hates them, and they hate him. The hours of abuse he’s been given make him look like a goatee-bearded Nelson Mandela. Stamford Bridge is his Robben Island. Get him a biopic, stat.

4. Say Chelsea have had a great season

Lots of us lie. A few of us even lie in public: “I am happy,” “These are my own clothes,” “I don’t know how that got up there.” But Rafael Benitez said Chelsea are having a great season! They are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, a cup that no longer matters to clubs that qualify for the Champions League. They are out of the Champions League. They are playing grim, Benitez-style football. They have Frank Lampard falling out with the board. They have lost a manager who won them the Champions League. They might not yet qualify for the Champions League next year. They have a manager they hate. They are run by people who care nothing for the fans, and their fans embarrass themselves whenever they see Anton, Rio or Franz Ferdinand. Truly, Benitez has given Chelsea back their dignity, and they have given it back to him. All through one triumphant, great season.

5. Hasn’t read out a list of facts


6. Play that Manchester United side, playing like that



The FA Cup happened on Monday because the Premier League was happening on Sunday and Saturday, and on Saturday Robin van Persie happened to a football, which then happened to Titus Bramble, who in turn happened to his own net, which itself led to the removal of St Martin of Neill from the Stadium of Light, which has this season broken new ground in the war against nominative determinism. Alex McLeish last season, O’Neill this; it’s obvious that success in Glasgow can only lead to misery, pain, and suffering in the Premier League. Neil Lennon, you’re better off elsewhere.
Which brings us neatly to …


Paolo Di Canio said he is a fascist. He has also almost denied he is a fascist recently, but not really denied it. People are allowed to think what they want, but if we are still pretending that clubs have any responsibility to or roots in their community, then not appointing someone with, at the very least, fascist sympathies, who has made fascist salutes in front of crowds of fascists, is probably the appropriate course of action. Appointing someone with, at the very least, fascist sympathies, who has made fascist salutes in front of crowds of fascists, is not the appropriate course of action.