Former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is parachuting into SW6 until the end of the season following Roberto Di Matteo’s early-hours sacking.
Report by Daily Mirror
But the 52-year-old will instantly be confronted by the wrath of the Chelsea fans who voiced their anger over Abramovich’s decision to give the Spaniard Di Matteo’s job.
Benitez was confirmed as “interim first team manager until the end of the season” even before he boarded an overnight flight from Abu Dhabi, due to touchdown at Heathrow at 7am.
Chelsea’s top target, former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, has turned them down once but will be approached once again in the summer, with Abramovich believing he could still get his man.
Wednesday saw Chelsea’s official website inundated with angry messages about Benitez.
And Twitter approached meltdown amid furious protests against a man whose potential appointment when Andre Villas-Boas was sacked in March was met with four-letter chants by Blues fans.
Dave Johnstone, editor of the main Chelsea fanzine, cfcuk, said: “Rafa Benitez is not a Chelsea manager. He isn’t what we want.
“When he was manager of Liverpool and we had Jose Mourinho he was very dismissive of Chelsea, very rude towards us. Whenever anything went wrong, it was always somebody else’s fault, not his.”
Some Blues fans threatened to rip up their season tickets in protest, with others stating a determination to show Abramovich they detested a man they describe as a “fat Spanish waiter” after the popular Di Matteo paid the price for the Champions League debacle against Juventus.
Benitez’ aggressive stance towards Mourinho has not been forgiven, while his dismissive comment that Liverpool “do not need to give away flags for our fans to wave” has not been forgotten either.
Benitez is already making plans for the January transfer window.
His main priorities are a defensive midfielder and a central defender, with Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel an early target.
Chelsea are also ready to splash the cash up front, with Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao and Bayer Leverkusen’s Andre Schurrle prime contenders.
Sort out Fernando Torres Benitez’s fellow Spaniard was supposed to be the missing link for Chelsea but has turned into the anchor weighing the club down. If Benitez cannot get the best out of him, even Roman Abramovich will surely run out of patience.
Make the defence defend John Terry’s absence has destabilised the entire back line and left keeper Petr Cech exposed time and again, with scrutiny falling on David Luiz. However, we know Chelsea’s players are not happy playing Benitez’s preferred zonal-marking system.
Midfield security John Obi Mikel has become the lightning rod for fan discontent. But, in recent weeks, Ramires has been a far bigger problem than the Nigerian, who has been a model of consistency. Juventus ran through Chelsea’s middle with impunity on Tuesday night.
Balancing Abramovich’s vision with pragmatism Roberto Di Matteo gave the Chelsea owner the attacking football he wanted, but it was always a high-wire act — and the Italian discovered there was no safety net after Tuesday’s loss in Turin. Benitez must find a middle ground, and quickly.
Bridge the dressing room’s respect gap Senior Blues players bridled at Benitez’s sniping from Anfield towards Jose Mourinho’s side. The feeling was that he demeaned their achievements. Despite changes in personnel over recent years, Terry, Frank Lampard and Cech remain key players who must be won over.
Change the fans’ minds Blues supporters have never hidden their loathing of Benitez, which also dates back to the Mourinho era. That animosity has not softened in the 18 months since the Spaniard left Liverpool. If anything, it has intensified. It makes for a rocky road.Spaniard left Liverpool. If anything, it has intensified. It makes for a rocky road.