Chelsea have appointed Rafael Benitez as interim manager, The Daily Shift’s Josh Prenderville reports…
The former Liverpool, Inter Milan and Valencia boss, 52, takes over from Roberto Di Matteo, who was sacked following a poor run of form that culminated in Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat to Juventus.
Benitez had been the leading candidate with bookmakers ever since Di Matteo’s sacking was announced. He appears to fit the criteria for controversial Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, having previously lifted the UEFA Champions League with the Merseyside outfit, as well as being a two time UEFA Manager of the Year.
However, the appointment has not pleased all Blues fans. Chairman of the Chelsea Supporters Group Trizia Fiorellino said that “I don’t think Benitez is a good manager,” with a spokesman for fanzine cfcuk adding that “Benitez is not a Chelsea manager. He isn’t what we want.”
BBC Chief Football Writer Phil McNulty suggested that Benitez has a lot to prove, in spite of his good reputation, stating:
Rafael Benitez must not only satisfy the demands of an owner who seems beyond satisfaction after taking over as Chelsea manager, he must also uncover a way to win over a sceptical fanbase…. Benitez will need to get off to a fast start to impress his new boss Abramovich and also to start to erase the doubts Chelsea fans clearly have about him.
The short term contract that Benitez has signed has fuelled speculation that former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola will be sounded out for a permanent role in the summer.
Benitez becomes the ninth manager to serve under Abramovich since the Russian oil tycoon bought the London-based outfit in 2004. He has allegedly spent over £86 million on paying off the contracts of previous managers, including current Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, since then.
Chelsea Football Club said in an official statement: “The owner and the Board believe that in Benitez we have a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives.”
Benitez’s first game in charge comes this Sunday when Chelsea take on Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.