Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Chelsea name Benitez ‘interim’ manager

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London: Chelsea announced that Rafael Benitez had been appointed their interim first team-manager until the end of the season after the European champions sacked Roberto di Matteo.

Di Matteo was fired after Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat by Juventus left Chelsea facing elimination at the group stage of the Champions League. But within hours Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s Russian billionaire owner who has now sacked seven managers since buying the club in 2003, appointed former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez.

“Chelsea Football Club can confirm Rafael Benitez has been appointed interim first-team manager until the end of the season,” said a club statement.

“The owner (Abramovich) 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.”

However, the fact he is on a short-term contract will intensify speculation that former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, currently on sabbatical, is the man Abramovich truly wants.

At Valencia Benitez twice won the Spanish League and the UEFA Cup while his six years at Liverpool yielded an FA Cup and their fifth European Cup. Benitez left Liverpool by “mutual consent” in 2010 after the club finished Premier League season in seventh place, their worst since 1999.

However, days later, he then took charge of Inter Milan only for his spell in charge of the Italian giants to last just a matter of months. He quit Inter in December 2010 after calling on the club to back him or sack him in the upcoming January transfer market following the team’s FIFA Club World Cup final win. (AFP)

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