Chelsea Reportedly Names Rafael Benitez as Interim Manager

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2012

The search is over, as Roman Abramovich and Chelsea have named Rafael Benitez as the club's newest manager, according to the club's website:

Chelsea Football Club can confirm Rafael Benitez has been appointed interim first-team manager until the end of the season.

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.

The 52-year-old Spaniard is due to meet the players at the training ground in Cobham tomorrow.

With Roberto Di Matteo getting sacked after a dreadful 3-0 loss to Juventus in the Champions League, the talk in the English Premier League turned to whom the Blues would hire next. While many hoped it would be former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, it was Benitez who got the gig.

Benitez hasn't managed in nearly two years, with his last gig lasting just six months before Inter Milan let him go him in 2010. Previously, he managed Liverpool from 2004-10, winning the Champions League title in 2005 and reaching the title game in 2007.

He did not win the Premier league title while with Liverpool, however. And he wasn't considered a very promising candidate by many of Chelsea's biggest supporters, according to Emily Croydon of BBC Sport:

But chair of the Chelsea Supporters Group, Trizia Fiorellino, said: "I don't think Benitez is a good manager."

David Johnstone, spokesman for fanzine cfcuk, added: "Benitez is not a Chelsea manager. He isn't what we want."

Hardly a ringing endorsement.

Di Matteo's sacking is far from surprising. While many will feel he should have been given more time after signing a contract extension before this season, Abramovich is notoriously impatient with managers, and he's now looking to sign his ninth manager since taking over in 2003.

The Blues bolted to a fast start this season, going unbeaten in its first eight games in the EPL and winning seven. But things have turned somewhat sour since, having failed to win in four league matches and losing to Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion.

Things aren't much better in the Champions League, with the team in danger of being eliminated from Group E just a season after winning the elite tournament. An embarrassing loss to Juventus was apparently the straw that broke Di Matteo's back.

It remains to be seen if Benitez can fix what ails Chelsea and resuscitate the ailing side. One thing is for certain—if he doesn't, Abramovich won't hesitate to sack him as well.


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