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Rafa Benítez nominated for Coach of the Year

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The new coach finds himself included in the FIFA Football Coach of the Year nominations, along with a bunch of no-names such as Jupp Heynckes, Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Christopher Lee

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, new Napoli manager Rafa Benítez is on the list for FIFA Coach of the year. Here's what the ballot says about Rafa:

Though some sections of the Chelsea support never took to him, Rafael Benitez guided the Londoners to the UEFA Europa League title and third place in the English Premier League in 2013, guaranteeing them a berth in this season’s Champions League. After leaving Chelsea for Napoli in May, the Spanish coach presided over the Italian club’s joint second-best start to the season, as they strung together four consecutive wins. The last of those victories came away to AC Milan at the San Siro, where they had not won in 27 years.

While it's true that Napoli got off to a good start, and the Milan win was certainly a pleasant experience, and it's even more fun to watch the partenopei this season, you gotta think that Benítez may not have the best of chances. The Europa League title gets him on the list? A third place finish in England?

That certainly makes Rafa more deserving of the award that Jupp Heynckes. Winning the Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich, boasting the Champions League trophy, then rounding off the treble by winning the German Cup? Totally pales in comparison with a third-place finish and a four-game winning streak.

But hey -- we've got ourselves a top ten coach in Rafa Benítez. And I don't see a certain Walter Mazzarri anywhere on that list.