Rafa Benitez addressed the media at Stamford Bridge on Thursday following on from his shock appointment as interim first team manager by signaling his intent and revealing how it was impossible to turn down the lure of the European Champions.
“This is a massive club that allows me to fight for trophies, when you have a chance like this, you have to take it.”
“The fans and manager want to win every single game, nobody wants to win more than fans and manager. At the end I think that they will be pleased.”
“I will try to win from day one. In seven months we can win some trophies. I don’t care about the short-term, what I have in my head is to win every game. We have five trophies to fight for. We will see what happens, in seven months we can win some trophies.”
With many supporters of the Blues reeling from his predecessor Roberto Di Matteo’s inglorious sacking in the wake of Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat in Turin against Juventus, the media’s eyes were once more fixed to SW6 as tensions among the fan-base run high.
“I like to do things in the right way for the fans because at the end of the day it will be good for me,” explained the former Inter boss.
“I am sure they will be happy with a manager who has this winning mentality, this passion for the game, and will do everything he can to win games. I can understand that it is not easy at the beginning, people can have doubts but in the end I think they will be pleased.”
Previous derogatory comments made towards the Blues fan-base have damaged relations between the former Valencia and Liverpool manager and the supporters at Chelsea and while results may prove to be positive, it will take more than a comfortable league position to silence the dissenting voices. The Spaniard was bullish in the face of questioning on his comments but argued that he was fighting his former clubs corner and would do so for Chelsea now he is charge of the European Champions.
“I want to be honest, if I say this or that, I have to analyse the context. We can analyse every sentence and I can say yes or no I regret this. In the past I was playing against Chelsea, a top side, in the semi-finals of the Champions League and if I am a fan I like to see my manager fight for my team, trying to win every game and doing almost everything, so I don’t see a lack of respect for Chelsea fans, it was more a manager defending his team against another top side. I am sure they will like to see me defending my club now in the way I defended Liverpool at this time.”
Benitez’s long standing association with Liverpool is an obstacle that many Chelsea supporters cannot overlook and it is these doubters that the Spaniard must address if he is to win over the Stamford Bridge faithful.
Having had success on the continent domestically and with his European pedigree at Anfield well known to those on these shores, the Premier League remains an elusive trophy and when pushed on the significance of success in the competition with his new side the manager was visibly pressured.
“If I look at my CV I have won every trophy, not in England but then Guardiola has not won the Premier League.”
“We can win 5 trophies, of course we can win games and have injuries but my aim is to win.”
Presumably his first task will be to attempt to resolve the ongoing crisis surrounding misfiring striker Fernando Torres. With thousands of column inches dedicated to working out quite where the £50 million, British transfer record striker has gone wrong it will not be an easy job. His promising early season form has given way to anonymous and underwhelming performances.
It seems that for the first time in the two years he has been at the club, the fans patience with the Spaniard seems to be wearing thin. Benitez signed Torres for Liverpool during his tenure at Anfield and without doubt had the striker playing his most devastatingly brilliant football. It remains to be seen whether or not Benitez will be able to guide his former protégée back to his goal-scoring best.
He was coy when pressed on his initial impressions after his reuinion with the No.9 but remained confident he would perform when called upon.
“I know everybody will be talking about Fernando and today I was talking with him like I was talking with the other players and his attitude was good.”
“Everybody has been talking about him and how he was not doing well and I was the same because I was watching games and his attitude was really poor, and today it was the same as all the others.”
“He trained with a good attitude and he will improve, Fernando is a top class player, but I saw many today with a great attitude.”
“I will try to improve him.”
With the January transfer window looming and deals still not in place to secure the futures of Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, Benitez revealed that dialogue with those in charge would take place if targets were needed. Florent Malouda was also offered a glimmer of hope as he currently trains with the youth team after being frozen out under Di Matteo.
“From what I know and see is that if they do the best for the team, then it is no problem.”
“They are behind me because they trust me, think I can do well, that we have a good team and he thinks I can do well with these players. The principle object is I have to win games.”
“I will talk to the (people in charge) about new players if I feel it is needed.”
Ultimately, for many Chelsea fans his new teams performances on the field will determine their views on him and he was resolute in his goals for the European Champions.
“I think that the priority of the fans is to win the game, I will do my best for them and for the team.”
“What will happen in the future I don’t know. When you analyse why go to a top side for seven months – it’s because you can win trophies.”