Rafa Benitez lets rip at hostile fans and Chelsea boardroom
He doesn't mention Abramovich by name, but he's furious Russian made him only 'interim' manager
RAFA BENITEZ has "gone mad". That's the verdict of senior Chelsea officials after the club's interim manager launched a blistering broadside at all things Blue on Wednesday night.
It all became too much for Benitez in a week that has seen more lurid headlines alleging dressing-room discontent with his reign at the club. That, together with the hostility from the fans and a lack of perceived support from the board, conspired to send Benitez over the edge.
As he faced the cameras following Chelsea's 2-0 FA Cup win over Middlesbrough, Benitez dispensed with the tried and trusted formula of the post-match interview, and instead let rip. Or as one Chelsea official was heard muttering, "They call it 'Loco' in Spain don't they?"
According to the Man from the Daily Mirror, Benitez's tirade ran a full 13 minutes, the seething Spaniard "hardly breaking flow" as he went on the attack.
Having been booed once more by a section of Chelsea fans during the game, Benitez fumed: "This group of fans are not making any favourites [sic] with the team and they are singing and wasting time preparing banners. They have to concentrate on supporting the team."
He then accused the hostile fans of undermining Chelsea by their behaviour: "If they put players under pressure, they don't create a good atmosphere at Stamford Bridge, they have to realise they are making a big mistake because the rest of the fans would like to see the team in the Champions League next year."
Benitez then turned his wrath on the boardroom, and though he didn't mention Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich by name, it was clear who he had in mind when he snapped: "Chelsea gave me the title of interim manager, which is a massive mistake. I'm the manager… Why put interim in the title? Why did they need do that? Maybe they thought, 'He was at Liverpool', so put interim in".
At the heart of Benitez's extraordinary outburst is the lack of respect he feels he has been accorded since replacing Roberto Di Matteo as manager in November. As he reminded the world: "I have been in charge in football for 26 years. I have won the Champions League, won the FIFA Club World Cup, the FA Cup, the Italian Supper Cup, the Spanish league twice, nine trophies, all the trophies you can win at club level."
Consequently, he clearly doesn't appreciate being whistled, jeered and called a "fat Spanish waiter" by his own fans, for whom he had a message as his rant reached its climax. "At the end of the season I will leave. They don't have to worry about me."
But some are speculating that Rafa's reign might be over sooner than he anticipates. The Guardian says the Chelsea board will "discuss his future" at a meeting later today, while the Mirror claims that former Chelsea coach Avram Grant is already being lined up to take over until the end of the season.