Rafael Benitez has been auditioning for the permanent job as Chelsea's lead man ever since he took over about three months ago, but simply making the Capital One Cup final won't be enough to secure his spot.
It might seem like a tough order to fill, but Benitez's side must win it all in order for the interim coach to become a full-timer. So far, no good for Benitez's club in that department.
Chelsea is just one game away from reaching the final where they could take on the team already waiting for them, Bradford City. Chelsea dropped the first meeting with Swansea City, 2-0, so clearly Chelsea has some work to do if they want to reach the final.
The must-win sentiments have already been echoed by Swansea City's manager, Michael Laudrup, per Tony Little of The Sun:
All that money they have spent and people ask if they need a trophy more than us?
It’s obvious. One of their players, and not the most expensive one, costs more than our entire squad.
While Laudrup is likely trying to play some mind games with his upcoming opponent and put some extra pressure on Chelsea's players and Ramirez himself, his statements couldn't be any more accurate.
Owners who spend a ton of money on players like Roman Abramovich do want to see results, and the desired results are normally realized when the club is holding some kind of hardware in its hands.
Chelsea's spending habits are through the roof and so are the expectations.
Abramovich wants to make sure he gets a major return on his investments and that those players are being used in the proper fashion that will lead to the most success. There's no better way for Benitez to prove he is doing just that than to win the Capital One Cup.
Things are looking pretty good for Benitez as it appears Abramovich is pleased with what he sees from his current coach, according to Paul Kelso of The Telegraph:
Without giving too many details, he was really pleased with the game. He has ideas. I do, too. We share ideas. It’s fine. We explained to each other what we’re trying to do. It’s fine. The other day I had time with him and I was really pleased.
Despite being optimistic about his owner's overall view of the club, Benitez is a realist and does understand trophies are a necessity, per the same report by Kelso:
As a manager you have to be satisfied with this. We have to do better to win trophies, but the priority for the club is to be in the top four and try to win trophies at the same time.
With all the talent Chelsea has, it's obvious that anything less than a Capital One Cup victory would be a disappointment. Losing to Swansea City before getting to the final would be even worse and would no doubt add fuel to the fire that Benitez is not the right man for the job.
It remains to be seen how things will shake out and what decision Abramovich will make about who will lead this club in the future, but there's no doubt Benitez would be a lock for the Chelsea job if his squad can win the Capital One Cup.