Benitez thrown in at the deep end at Chelsea
London – Interim manager Rafael Benitez has little time to dust off his Premier League suit and tie and start plotting how to drag Chelsea out of their malaise with leaders Manchester City visiting Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The Spaniard, who guided Liverpool to European glory in 2005 and another Champions League final two years later before leaving in 2010, was appointed until the end of the season after Roberto Di Matteo was sacked yesterday.
Di Matteo paid the price for Chelsea’s alarming drop in form which culminated in a 3-0 loss at Juventus on Tuesday that left the holders on the brink of a Champions League exit.
Chelsea’s new man must quickly solve their defensive problems that have seen 21 goals conceded in 10 games in all competitions. Chelsea are also without a win in four league games.
Benitez will be reunited with Spain striker Fernando Torres, who he signed for Liverpool from Atletico Madrid in 2007.
Torres has often struggled to live up to his 50 million pounds (R714 million) price tag since moving to the capital last year and was dropped to the bench against Juve.
After a bright start, Chelsea have slipped to third and champions City, buoyed by reaching the Premier League summit last weekend, should be ready to take advantage.
City exited the Champions League at the group stage for the second season running yesterday after a 1-all draw with Real Madrid, but manager Roberto Mancini believes his side are starting to hit their stride.
“We can do better, but I hope we are starting to find the form of last season – we started to change things a few games ago and it seems to be paying off,” Mancini said before the Real game.