I have a massive amount of respect for Rafa, both as a manager and as a person.
As a manager you only need to glance at his record and what he has achieved to know just how good he is. Didi Hamann describes him very simply as "a genius" in his book, which sums him up perfectly for me. That's not to say that a genius doesn't have flaws, but during his time at our club I honestly believed that given the correct backing and patience, that he would've taken us back to the very top, and let's be honest here for a second - he very nearly did, as he had previously with Valencia in very similar circumstances. Think back to some of the players that he signed, and some of the games that we played in, and it quickly makes you realise just how inappreciative we were at the time. It became normal and that's the best compliment I think we can give him.
As a man he acted with dignity and respect throughout his time at the club and within the city in general. His donation to the HFSG - almost immediately after being sacked by email - was a mark of the man. As was his continued efforts to un-mask Hicks and Gillett for what they really were, once it became clear. Take a second to compare the way that Rafa acted under these circumstances to a certain knight of the realm still working for American levereged buyout merchants at the other end of the M6 and the contrast is clear. One had the club at heart, the other himself.
The manner in which Rafa was forced out of the club was not only a massive shame and a lost opportunity to achieve something truly special, but also a disgrace in so many ways. The way in which the media portrayed him as well will live long in my own memory, that's for sure. The fact that he remains largely a joke figure among the majority of football supporters in this country is testiment to the scale of the hatchet job that was done on him.
And it is for the above (briefly) outlined reasons that I would personally back Rafa in whichever job that he decided was right for him. I am not and will never be in any way fond of Chelsea Football Club, but if they decided that Rafa was right for them and he accepted, then despite my feelings towards the club it would undoubtedly give me a sense of happiness and pride, somewhere deep, deep down, to see Rafa achieve what he could and should have achieved with us. To see him given the opportunity to shove the hollow, agenda-driven misconceptions and downright lies back down the throats of Fleet Streets finest.
Do I think that Rafa is right for Chelsea? I think he's right for any top club with patience and ambition, to be quite honest.
Do I think that Chelsea is right for Rafa? They have the funds and the ambition to match his own, that's for sure. The big question is with Roman Abramovich and whether he would show the required patience to allow Rafa to not only outline his vision, but to see it through to fruition. Glancing at the bloodstained cushion on the managers hot-seat at Stamford Bridge can only make you doubt that that would be the case. And then there are the supporters. The same supporters that appear to believe that Rafa is not good enough for them. They would do well to put that blinkered, agenda-soaked newspaper down, switch off Sky Sports and scan through his record. As i've already said, it speaks for itself. If they can't be bothered to do that with a even a hint of subjectivity then quite frankly, they don't deserve him.
Whatever happens though, I can state without any hesitation that I hope that whatever he decides is right for him, that he succeeds and achieves what he is capable of. If he does that - and with the right backing I still believe that he will - then whoever is lucky enough to have him will be embarking on a voyage towards a golden era.
But for a monumentally poor decision by David Moores, it would have been us.