Chelsea fans 'should direct ire at Abramovich not Benitez'
But Petr Cech says only good results will make Blues fans come round to Rafa Benitez
CHELSEA FANS should stop jeering their interim manager Rafa Benitez and direct their ire at the club's owner, Roman Abramovich (above), instead, says Matt Dickinson in The Times.
The hatred of Benitez, dating back to his time as manager at Liverpool, is mainly based on some pretty slender stuff, anyway.
In 2007, before a match against Chelsea, the Spaniard referred to the plastic flags sometimes handed out at Stamford Bridge when he said: "We don't need to give away flags for our fans to wave – our supporters are always there with their hearts, and that is all we need. It's the passion of the fans that helps to win matches – not flags."
Over the years, the quote was changed to "stupid plastic flags" which, for some reason, upset Chelsea fans deeply.
Benitez also said during his time at Liverpool that he could never imagine himself working at Chelsea – but what Blues fans forget is that he added: "Chelsea is a big club with fantastic players; every manager wants to coach such a big team". About as inflammatory as an April shower, notes Dickinson.
And that's about all there is to it.
"Benítez did not shoot Bambi," says Dickinson. "The man with [former manager Roberto] Di Matteo's blood on his hands, the man who slayed the darling of Stamford Bridge (whose team, incidentally, had leaked 21 goals in the past ten games), is Abramovich.
"It is the owner who incessantly meddles and has a flawed obsession with getting a return on his £50 million for Fernando Torres despite all the evidence to the contrary."
If Chelsea fans had the courage, says Dickinson, they'd hold up banners saying, "Roman, you don't know what you're doing".
Though not if goalie Petr Cech has his way. He wants his team-mates and fans to accept the way Abramovich treats his managers.
Asked by the Evening Standard following the 0-0 draw with Manchester City if he was having a tough time getting used to yet another new manager, the keeper responded: "You adapt or you're out. It's as simple as that.
"I'm here to play, I want to play so I do everything I can straight away so that the manager has no option but to put me in goal."
According to The Sun, Cech was upset by Di Matteo's sacking last Wednesday, just six months after he had guided the club to the Champions League and FA Cup – but he felt the players must share the blame for his dismissal.
"I spoke to him after the news," said Cech. "I was disappointed at the way it all ended. Everybody is to blame. As players, we are responsible for the manager leaving."
Now it's time to give the new man a chance – and only a good run will make the fans change their minds
"I think the manager deserves to have a chance, as every manager has who has joined the club. It's up to us to make things happen and make the fans happy."
That starts immediately, with London derbies against Fulham tomorrow night and West Ham on Saturday. Will the fans let up? Don't bank on it.