The ink was barely dry on the press release that Roberto Di Matteo had been fired when Chelsea announced that former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez had been hired as an interim manager. Although as someone commented earlier today, aren’t all Chelsea managers hired on an interim basis?
A statement on the Chelsea web site read:
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.
The two-time UEFA Manager of the Year comes with outstanding pedigree. He began his managerial career in his homeland, most notably at Valencia where he built a reputation as one of Europe’s top coaches by winning the Spanish League twice and the UEFA Cup. He then spent six years at Liverpool and led them to their fifth European Cup and an FA Cup.
The decision to hire Rafa was met with universal disapproval by the Chelsea fans, who remember the former Liverpool manager from those epic Champions League ties when Jose Mourinho was Chelsea boss.
Chelsea Supporters Group chair Trizia Fiorellino summed up the feeling of the Chelsea fans telling Radio5 Live:
‘Chelsea pulled the rug from under Roberto Di Matteo, which was just ludicrous. Now they have got in someone of Benitez’s calibre. He is a poor manager. Nobody has wanted to employ him for two years. What does that tell you? He is the wrong choice for Chelsea and the fans do not want him.’
Chelsea have a massive game at home to Manchester City at Stamford Bridge and it will be interesting to see the reaction that Rafa gets from the Chelsea fans, and whether the Matthew Harding Stand and the Shed will sing the name of Roberto Di Matteo?
Benitez is in the job while Roman Abramovich continues to try and convince former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola to be Di Matteo’s long-term successor, and Abramovich has reportedly offered to make Guardiola the highest-paid manager in the world on £15million a year.
The question is why would Guardiola want to manage Chelsea instead of Man City or AC Milan? I am sure that he is well aware thatDi Matteo lasted only 262 days as Chelsea manager. Andre Villas-Boas (256) Avram Grant (247) and Luiz Felipe Scolari (223).