Rafael Benitez was thrown into the cauldron as opposed to entering the lions den as the cult figure sat alone in the dugout while his predecessor's name reverberated around the stadium. As far as his first game went, a point against Manchester City despite a lacklustre and unadventurous display can only encourage the Spaniard.

Of the nine managers making their debut for Chelsea under Roman Abramovich, Rafael Benitez became the third to not win. The Spaniard equalled Andre Villas-Boas in drawing, with Avram Grant being the only one to lose.

At most other clubs, Rafa Benitez would be a caretaker but at Chelsea he is an interim head coach- something you get when spending money at the rate Roman Abramovich does. Interims are seen as having less power than an ordinary manager even though their positions are full-time. An interim appointment has little say in club matters, something Benitez admitted himself on day one in the job whilst letting slip that stalwarts Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole are likely to depart at the end of the campaign.

The boss seemed content and did not disagree with the claim that the club are set to lose one of the world's best left-backs and one of the most reliable and esteemed English midfielders ever produced in a similar way in which they ditched Didier Drogba after his miracle-working prodigy in Munich which clinched the Blues unprecedented supremacy in Europe. Out of the Premier League and Europe games in which Lampard has begun thus far this term, Chelsea have lost just one- and he only lasted 18 minutes before coming off injured in the 2-1 reverse to Ukranian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.

The club appear to lack the ruthless approach which has been successfully adopted by counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United down the years. The Scotsman's judgements are always vindicated and the opinions to which he is entitled to with no intervention of the ownership hierarchy are put across in a professional manner.

Roman Abramovich is the only man who lays down the law at Chelsea and is seemingly hurrying the old guard out of the door to start a new vibrant revolution to the European champions headed by younger players. The Russian owner has clearly hated the fact that Di Matteo opted for Drogba over Torres in the latter months of last season having shelled out £50 million for the hottest property in the Premier League attacking department in January 2011.

He was dissatisfied by Di Matteo's view that Cole was worthy of a new contract. The left-back, who wins his 100th England cap in his next appearance, is now a target for ex-Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti at PSG in January while United boss Ferguson has not ruled out a sensational move for the 32-year old.

Having shipped Villas-Boas out of the club within nine months having tasked the young coach with rebuilding one of the world's biggest clubs, Benitez now has his orders having spoken that his opinion is not what matters at Stamford Bridge but that of an owner who appears to domineer the day-to-day running of the football business. Benitez has had time to assess the situation as he took three training sessions last week but the manager's role at Chelsea is the topic of conversation amongst the footballing clan far too often and has a certain negative stigma attached to it. Would Pep Guardiola be gracious to work in this kind of unsettled environment?

The decisions of Roberto Di Matteo appeared largely to be ignored while his policies were not universally respected by the entire Chelsea contingent- exemplified by the call to start Eden Hazard as the focal point of the Blues attack in the Champions League clash with Juventus last week, one which ultimately culminated in his abrasive dismissal.

When the chit-chat in the Chelsea dressing room circulated during the final days of Di Matteo's reign, Eden Hazard was the main target of the verbal exchanges. The £32.5 million summer acqusition, bought during the period in which the club did not have a boss in place, got his first real warning of form since his arrival yesterday after being hauled off on 71 minutes during the Manchester City stalemate and replaced by Victor Moses.

Hazard is no longer seen as one of the untouchables as Chelsea players called Hazard out of the dressing room following his sparse contribution during the 3-2 Champions League victory over Shakhtar Donetsk on 7th November. Some of the bigger names in the squad were quick to express their displeasure of his work-rate during the game. Their unimpressive view brought a demand for performances to improve and a plea for the Belgian to showcase his early-season form which proved what a special talent he is.

The playmaker has four goals and six assists since his switch from Lille and was a personal favourite of Roberto Di Matteo, who never doubted his true qualities. This was further accentuated in the amount of playing time he received under the Italian boss- featuring in every single minute of Di Matteo's final five games in charge.

Although the 21-year old was again lethargic against the defending Premier League champions, failing to service striker Fernando Torres, create chances or provide the spark which saw him become an instant hit with Blues fans when he exploded onto the Stamford Bridge scenery in August. On a slippery pitch, his best form again deserted him once more against City. His replacement Victor Moses looked more willing to run in behind and has seized his chance in recent weeks, scoring against Shakhtar Donetsk in Europe and Swansea in the Premier League.

With Oscar and Juan Mata catching the eye, if Moses was to seek a regular starting spot, it may well be Hazard's place in the team which will become up for grabs. He no longer has the protection and reassurance of Roberto Di Matteo with Benitez the man who must reignite Hazard's ability and find solutions to his recent dip in performance. For a player with a disconcerting reputation and stature in Europe, it is realistic for Chelsea fans and staff alike to expect more from the young man.

Benitez's time at Liverpool made him a figure of derision and dislike at Chelsea. It was the result of an acrimonious rivalry with Jose Mourinho and his outwitting of "The Special One" in 2005 and 2007's Champions League semi-finals and the 2006 FA Cup semi-final, plus some barbs many of their supporters remember only too well.

This history meant the introductions were always going to be awkward when the interim manager met his new fans for the first time when Manchester City arrived at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

So, during Chelsea's 0-0 draw with Manchester City, Stamford Bridge got as close to rebellion as it is ever likely to get but no anger could be heard rising up against Abramovich. The whole weight of the flak descended painfully on to Benitez.

Benitez claimed he turned a deaf ear to his reception, nothing could have prepared him for the sound and fury that greeted him as he made his way through the tunnel to his place in the technical area prior to kick-off. The stadium announcer could barely make himself heard as he looked to calm the supporters down before a minute's applause in memory of former Blues manager Dave Sexton.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech understands the supporters' hostility towards the former Liverpool manager but asked fans to support the new boss at Stamford Bridge. "Unfortunately you cannot change the history," Cech told reporters. "You don't know what's going to happen in the future. Mr Benitez was the Liverpool coach obviously, we had a lot of rivalry and it comes from there. But he is here to try and change things and put us in a winning mode. He needs to be given a chance to prove his worth."

The Czech international also expressed his sympathy for former manager Roberto Di Matteo after his sacking earlier in the week. He added: "It's always bad news as a player because you are responsible for the situation as well. The manager and players are in the same boat and if you don't do well it's the players' responsibility as well as the manager's. Unfortunately you cannot change the whole team, the manager has to go, that happened again."

Chelsea have lost most of their capacity to surprise- but the venom aimed at Benitez carried an edge that was a shock even to those expecting the frostiest of welcomes. And yet, while Benitez, received a warmer greeting from Manchester City's contingent than he did from Chelsea's fans, no voices were raised against Abramovich. No banners or chants suggesting the Russian was not welcome at Stamford Bridge. Nothing.

Abramovich dismissed Di Matteo and brought in Benitez- but any Roman revolt always stops short of the owner's executive box. This is the deal that has been made. If any of his behaviour meets with disapproval, it is suffered in silence for fear of causing offence.

Benitez happily accentuated the positive of a clean sheet and a point against the champions but it was his opposite number Roberto Mancini who explained the only way Chelsea's new manager can reverse a popularity rating that is well into minuses: "Win, win, win, win, win...every game."

You would not place too much money on even this being enough to convince Benitez's detractors. When a manager is not even given the first minute of his first game before being loudly and viciously acquainted with the disapproval of his own supporters, it is hard to see what he can actually do to win them over even before he tries to convince Abramovich to ditch the word "interim" from his title.

A banner draped from The Shed Stand read "Rafa Out - Fact." Posters held up stated: "In Roberto We Trusted And Loved. In Rafa We Will Never Trust. Fact." There were others. The other fact is that Abramovich has chosen his man and no matter how loud the dissenters shout and whether they like it, they are stuck with him until the owner decides otherwise. This is the law at Stamford Bridge.

On the other hand, Roberto Mancini will be quietly enjoying the fact his side are not the centre of attention on the backpages and will feel even better about last night once he reviews City's defensive performance at the Bridge and will acknowledge his influential captain who turned in a performance resembling his colossal best.

Vincent Kompany has had plenty of critics this season but proved on Sunday why he is still considered by many as the best defender in the Premier League. If City are to push United all the way in the league this season, Mancini will need his skipper to continue that sort of form for the rest of the season.

You can see the frustration etched across Kompany's face when he is invariably asked by reporters why City have once again failed in the Champions League. The 26-year-old, who appeared on BBC's Match of the Day last weekend, offered the same polite explanation each and every time but you get the feeling that the Belgian has had enough of the critics and reckons it is about time City answered their naysayers on the pitch.

Kompany will face much tougher defensive examinations in the weeks ahead than he did against the Blues against the jaded Torres. The Belgian dealt with the albeit mooted threat of what should have been a revitalised Torres with relative ease, illustrated perfectly in the shoulder charge which brought the Spaniard to his knees in the first half, the only time he threatened to get in behind the City captain in the match.

As easy as it seemed for the 26-year-old, he was consigned to walking on crutches only 48 hours before Sunday's game and managed to somehow walk off the pitch unscathed with Torres in his back pocket and the man-of-the-match award under his arm. The sheer determination and willingness to succeed shown by the Belgian encapsulated the spirit which drove City to their first Premier League title last season.

That spirit, though, is yet to trickle its way back into the side's other big names. Yaya Toure in particular has yet to show any signs of reaching the level of form which carried City over the line at the back end of last season. The Ivorian has often cut a laboured and somewhat disinterested figure in the champions' midfield so far this term, it may well be Kompany's job to give his team-mates a much-needed kick up the backside.

The former Hamburg defender's performance against Chelsea was in stark contrast to his poor form in the opening weeks of the campaign which itself was indicative of Manchester City's early season struggles as a whole. After forging a title-winning partnership with Joleon Lescott last year the City skipper suddenly found himself, more often than not, partnering 19-year-old Matija Nastasic in defence. That, coupled with Mancini's new found tendency to shift to three at the back, sometimes mid-match, meant that at times City's defence did not know whether they were coming or going.

The player who inexplicably tried to beat two men on the halfway line against West Bromwich Albion and got James Milner sent off was a far cry from the man who lifted the Premier League trophy above his head last May. But City's results in recent weeks, excluding the Champions League, provide some evidence that the Manchester City of last year could be back. The defending champions only managed a single clean sheet in their opening nine games of the season- against goal-shy Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium. Since then, however, Steven Caulker's first-half strike for Tottenham is the only league goal Joe Hart has conceded.

We are a month away from Christmas and Manchester City are still unbeaten in the league and trail their bitter city rivals by only a point. Their elimination from the Champions League and the return to form of their talismanic captain means that the champions' charge for another title begins here, with Kompany at the heart.