Jan Molby

Rafa has a huge job on his hands

We knew what a tough job Rafa Benitez had ahead of him at Chelsea given everything that goes on at that club, but the hostile reception he received on Sunday has revealed the full extent of the challenge.

We sometimes hear before games that fans are going to turn on managers but you never actually think it is going to happen - especially when it is his first game in charge. But obviously we didn't quite realise how strong the feeling is among Chelsea fans - they genuinely do not like him.

It is assumed there will be a lot more fans who are there to support the team and club - and by that I mean support whoever is in charge. But Benitez has obviously said things in the heat of battle as Liverpool manager in the past and it appears that some people are not prepared to forgive.

I can't think of a manager who has had a worse reception upon taking a job. A commentator yesterday said it was the worst reception he had heard in Premier League history and that sounds about right to me. I can't think of another example that comes close, even when Harry Redknapp joined Southampton after Portsmouth, and then went back to Portsmouth.

What goes through the mind of a fan who wants a manager out before he has even had the chance to take charge for a single game? The clue is in the word 'supporter'. A supporter is meant to support. You have your grievances but you voice them before you get to the ground. Once you are there you have to support the team. Who in their right mind thinks behaving in such a way is going to benefit anyone?

I dread to think what it will be like when they start losing. I don't mean two or three on the bounce - Chelsea don't do that - but they will lose the occasional game. They have Fulham away in midweek, which is a tough game. What happens if they struggle then?

Rafa said he wasn't aware of the booing and the abuse and while I do believe that during the match there is a period when you are so focused on the game that you don't hear anything, you certainly would before kick-off. It would have been a source of great embarrassment for him.

You could see it in his face. I think he would have gone into that game aware of rumours that there might be one or two banners, but I don't think he expected what he got. You always think that love of the club will win the day, but it didn't.

Let's be clear: this is a situation of Chelsea's own making. Clearly they wanted to get rid of Roberto Di Matteo and the process of removing him and installing his replacement has been a shambles. That has hurt the fans, but it is Benitez who has been held to account.

It is going to be very difficult to turn it around. Perhaps if he can get the best out of Fernando Torres he might be able to convince the fans, but that isn't going to happen. Torres looks a broken man and I very much doubt if Benitez will be able to bring him back to the best form he showed at Liverpool.

The fact Chelsea are happy to describe Benitez only as an interim manager gives the fans more ammunition - it is then easier to give him stick as he is only hanging around for a little while. To give him such a flimsy title does him no favours. It will also restrict his authority over his players. If they know you are only there for five minutes then players can be a ruthless bunch.

So could we spot a change in the way Chelsea played, even though it's still early days for Benitez? Well, there was certainly more determination about the way they closed down. They were trying hard but they still look some way short of their best form. Benitez will work on making them hard to break down and compact in training so I think we saw a flavour of that, but it is nowhere near what Benitez is capable of.

The fact they kept a clean sheet wasn't all down to Rafa, but it showed some improvement. Whether Chelsea fans give him the chance to progress further remains to be seen.