Sun, Mar 03, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Benitez pleads for Chelsea support

Reuters, LONDON

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez sought to build bridges and ease tensions on Friday, two days after castigating hostile fans and aiming a swipe at club officials for his “interim” job title.

The Spaniard, routinely jeered by a section of Chelsea’s supporters since replacing the sacked Roberto Di Matteo in November, unleashed a passionate invective after Wednesday’s 2-0 FA Cup victory at Middlesbrough, saying he would leave when his short-term deal ran out at the end of the season.

At a news conference on the eve of yesterday’s home game with West Bromwich Albion, a smiling and relaxed Benitez said he was only trying to get fans to rally round the cause of helping Chelsea finish in the top four of the Premier League.

“If you analyze carefully, I was only trying to explain we have 11 games to play, 33 points, if we stick together it will be easy for us to get points,” Benitez said on Friday.

“The fans are really important for the team. We need the atmosphere we had against Arsenal [in January] and Napoli,” he added.

“The message is clear — I have no problem with the board, [technical director] Michael Emenalo, [owner] Roman Abramovich or the players. I will do the best for the club. I have 26 years as a manager of principles, respect and education to achieve what I have,” Benitez said.

Last season Chelsea produced a superb comeback, recovering from a 3-1 first-leg deficit against Napoli to win the return match 4-1 and reach the Champions League quarter-finals, before going on to win the trophy for the first time.

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