Thursday, February 28, 2013


Sacked in the morning? Rafael Benitez is at risk of being axed by Roman Abramovich

Interim coach of Chelsea, Rafa Benitez may be on his way out of Stamford Bridge sooner than expected after an extraordinary rant at supporters and an attack on owner Roman Abramovich for naming him the club’s interim manager.

After another night of hearing fans chanting insults as he guided Chelsea to an FA Cup quarter-final showdown at Manchester United, Benitez snapped and confirmed he would definitely be leaving the club.

The former Liverpool boss, who earned notoriety for a blast aimed at Sir Alex Ferguson while in charge at Anfield, and who was sacked by Inter Milan for a similar outburst, is unlikely to be in charge for the Old Trafford clash on Sunday week. 

Benitez, who insisted earlier this week the players were behind him, said: ‘It was a mistake to call me the interim (manager) from the start. I cannot change the titles and the perceptions now. The people who run the club will know I am trying to do my best.

‘The manager is the manager, one month, seven months, it does not matter. You are the manager. I had an agent (who negotiated the job). It was the English-Spanish translation.

‘I felt it was a mistake to call me the interim but I could not change it. It was too late. But I am the manager. I am professional and I will do my best until the last minute.

Struggle: Benitez has found it hard to get the side playing well
‘I’ve been in charge of football for 26 years. I’ve won the Champions League, FA Cup, Italian Super Cup, Spanish League twice. Nine trophies, all the trophies you can win at club level. But there is a group of fans who are not doing the team any favours.

‘They are singing and wasting time preparing banners and it is because someone made a mistake. They put my title “interim manager!” and I’ll leave at the end of the season, so they don’t need to waste time with me. That group is not doing the club, the players or the other fans any favours. What they have to do is continue supporting the team.

‘If we cannot achieve what we expect to achieve, to be in the top four and be in the Champions League next year, I will leave.

‘The club will stay in the Europa League but the fans will have to take responsibility too. The fans put the players under pressure and they do not create a good atmosphere at Stamford Bridge.

‘They have to realise they are making a big mistake as the rest of the fans want to see the team in the Champions League next year. It would be better for everyone to have a good atmosphere, supporting the team — that’s it.

‘I am the manager and I will manage the team. I like to manage players and not names, so I will pick my team and I will make my decisions and at the end of the season I will leave anyway as I’m interim, as they say. I think again, the fans are wasting time.

I proved these three months that I want to win every single game. I am professional. If we win I will be the happiest man in the world. But, if a group of fans, if they continue their agenda and they continue not supporting the team and wasting their time with these things, it is their decision.’

The comments were broadcast in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live and in his press conference after Chelsea beat Middlesbrough 2-0 at the Riverside Stadium in the FA Cup fifth-round.

This is the first time Benitez has been openly critical and contemptuous of the supporters and the club.

He implied the fans were to blame for the team's form and said it could result in them only making the Europa League next season.

Supporters' reactions across social networking sites were a mixture of anger and delight - many were furious at the unprofessionalism of his scathing comments while others heralded this as the penultimate day of his tenure at Chelsea. 

His comments about the fans and their attitude are especially puzzling given that they came after an away game at Middlesbrough with around 2,000 dissenting fans, when he previously claimed he could not hear the 40,000 who booed loudly at his first game in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Benitez said he did not hear the deafening boos and chants against him during the 0-0 draw with Manchester City, but they seem to be coming through loud and clear now.

If he does survive long enough to face West Brom on Saturday, he can be sure supporters at Stamford Bridge will be more willing than ever to vocalise their feelings about him.

Chelsea's two previous managers, Roberto Di Matteo and Andre Villas Boas, were both fired after games against Albion. Benitez could be fired before. 


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