Wednesday, November 21, 2012
RAFAEL BENITEZ SET TO TAKE OVER AT CHELSEA
Chelsea are closing in on their new boss with Rafa Benitez in the frame to replace sacked Roberto Di Matteo.
A dramatic day for Chelsea continues this afternoon with members of the board currently locked in an emergency meeting at Stamford Bridge to thrash out plans for the club’s future.
Roman Abramovich is desperate to land Pep Guardiola as the man to take over from Di Matteo - who he sacked at 4am this morning - but the former Barcelona boss is currently on a year’s sabbatical in New York and would need a ‘phenomenal’ offer to cut that year short.
Benitez, who was in Abu Dhabi this morning giving a scheduled talk at a coaching conference, is believed to be flying into Manchester tomorrow morning and could be used by Abramovich to fill the gap until the end of the season before Guardiola is ready to take the job on full-time.
Benitez told Sport360°: 'I have just found out [about Di Matteo]. Obviously Chelsea is a top side and they can compete for trophies so it goes in this category.'
Asked if Chelsea had already made an approach, he replied: 'You ask directly, I cannot answer directly. In football a lot of people are talking so we will see what happens in the next few days.
'I am looking for a club that can challenge for trophies and Chelsea is one of these clubs.'
Benitez is understood to be willing to take the job until the end of the season. This is despite turning down a similar offer last season after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked.
The former Liverpool and Inter Milan boss is addressing a conference in Abu Dhabi today and is scheduled to fly back tomorrow.
Abramovich fired Di Matteo this morning after an 'unacceptable' run of results.
Chelsea owner Abramovich, furious with the club's disastrous Champions League campaign, sacked him this morning just hours after their 3-0 defeat at Juventus and training was cancelled for the day.
Although he was prepared to overlook the Community Shield defeat against Manchester City, he was furious with the 4-1 defeat against Atletico Madrid in the Super Cup.
Di Matteo was informed of the decision during an emergency 4am meeting at the club's Cobham training base, just after the club had touched down back in England after the hour-and-a-half flight from Italy, six months after winning the champions league in Munich.
Chelsea executives met at an emergency meeting at Stamford Bridge at 9am this morning after telling Di Matteo that his reign was over just six months after he led them to glory in the European Cup.
Abramovich's No 1 target is former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, but the Blues owner needs to persuade him to end his year-long sabbatical from football. If he fails in this bid, he will turn to Rafa Benitez to take the helm.
Guardiola is spending time in Manhattan with his family after four years in charge at the Nou Camp and is the Russian's top target to take over.
However, sources close to the 41-year-old say it will take a 'phenomenal' offer for the manager to change his mind.
It is understood Guardiola's advisers are willing to begin negotiations with prospective employers ahead of next season.
Discreet enquires from Chelsea, City and Milan have already taken place, with all three clubs keen to steal a march on their rivals in the race to land the talented manager.