Tag Archives: benefactor

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich orders Rafa Benitez to deliver top-four finish

Abramovich gives up on cups and orders Benitez to deliver top-four finish

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

22:28 GMT, 29 January 2013

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UPDATED:

08:11 GMT, 30 January 2013

Roman Abramovich has written off Chelsea's chances of winning silverware this season and told Rafa Benitez to finish in the top four.

Chelsea's technical director Michael Emenalo met with Benitez at the club's training ground on Tuesday morning and passed on the message from their billionaire benefactor.

It means Chelsea – who started the season with the chance to win seven trophies – must finish strongly in the Barclays Premier League to guarantee Champions League football.

Mind the gap: Rafa Benitez is under instruction from Roman Abramovich to guide Chelsea to a top-four finish

Mind the gap: Rafa Benitez is under instruction from Roman Abramovich to guide Chelsea to a top-four finish

Although Abramovich and various Chelsea executives are furious with the manner of the team's performance in the 2-2 draw at Brentford in the FA Cup, finishing in the top four is all that counts.

Benitez met Emenalo before training on Tuesday for the latest inquest into Chelsea's failing season. The interim Chelsea coach said: 'All I can say is what I know. I have had meetings. We were talking about the situation and it's clear for me the priority is the top four and progressing as much as we can in the other competitions.

'In the last 10 days, we had a fantastic game against Arsenal, not such a good game against Swansea, and 50:50 the other day against Brentford. 'We still have the FA Cup and the Europa League, and we can still finish in the top four.'

All smiles: Demba Ba in training on Tuesday as Fernando Torres (below) bears the brunt of a tough challenge

All smiles: Demba Ba in training on Tuesday as Fernando Torres (below) bears the brunt of a tough challenge

Fernando Torres

Chelsea began the campaign with the chance to win seven trophies, but the only competitions they can win now are the Europa League and to defend the FA Cup.

Although Benitez insists he still wants to win the Cups, he has been in left in no uncertain terms about the priority of the owner.

Chelsea finished sixth in the Barclays Premier League last season and only qualified for the Champions League as winners.

Despite increasing pressure from Abramovich over the club's results in recent weeks, Benitez is working with a squad restricted by injury, fatigue and the Africa Cup of Nations.

Benitez, who has the support of the majority of Chelsea players under difficult circumstances, takes the team to Reading this evening in the Premier League.

They will be without keeper Petr Cech again, who is out with a calf injury, and they will have to rely on error prone Ross Turnbull at the Madejski Stadium.

Benitez is short of attacking options and Chelsea confirmed that they had offered Didier Drogba the chance of an emotional return to the club.

Drogba began training at Cobham to keep fit after the end of the Chinese football season and he was offered a six month deal with the option of another year. Despite the temptation to relive the glory years, Drogba has opted to join Turkish club Galatasaray on an 18 month deal.

Benitez will rotate Fernando Torres and Demba Ba, who cannot play three games a week because of a chronic knee condition, to get them across the finishing line this season.

The Chelsea chief came under severe criticism from supporters on Sunday when he replaced Branislav Ivanovic with Cesar Azpilicueta when the team were losing at Griffin Park.

They forced a replay when Torres scored the equaliser, but it's clear that the players are being affected by the mood around the club.

The Chelsea chief added: 'I talk to the players, that's my way. Some managers like to put their arms around their shoulders.

'I talk to the players every day. I talk with the injured players in the physio room. 'With the players in training. Or with senior players, why this, why that, and what we need to improve and what the game-plan will be.'

Rafael van der Vaart signs for Hamburg from Tottenham

Another one bites the dust: Van der Vaart latest to leave Spurs in 10m return to Hamburg

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UPDATED:

14:16 GMT, 31 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart has returned to Hamburg in a 10.3million deal.

The Holland playmaker has signed a three-year contract with the Bundesliga club, after flying out for a medical, and will wear the No 23 shirt that has always been associated with him at the Imtech Arena, after it unexpectedly became available.

'I am delighted that Rafael van der Vaart will be playing for Hamburg again,' said the Bundesliga club's coach Thorsten Fink. 'He will be a strong addition to our team.'

The 29-year old was such a crowd favourite in his first spell at Hamburg, from 2005 to 2008, that the club refused to give it anyone else, in the hope he would return.

Welcome back: Hamburg tweeted this picture of Rafael van der Vaart with Frank Arnesen

Welcome back: Hamburg tweeted this picture of Rafael van der Vaart with Frank Arnesen

On his way: Rafael van der Vaart is undertaking his Hamburg medical

On his way: Rafael van der Vaart is undertaking his Hamburg medical

Despairing of luring him back, they
relented last year and handed it to Slobodan Rajkovic. But the defender
had a blazing row with head coach Thorsten Fink just two months ago and
was immediately made available.

Hamburg have been unable to offload
him, despite their best efforts to fix up a permanent transfer or loan,
but have removed him from their squad list, leaving van der Vaart free
to pull on, once more, number 23.

The deal had been in the balance for
nearly a week, amid uncertainty over whether billionaire benefactor
Klaus-Michael Kuehne would bankroll it. But the 75-year old finally
agreed to loan his local club the money, and the 10.3million offer was
rubberstamped at a board meeting that only ended at 2am Friday morning.

'I can confirm that Rafael is on his way to Hamburg now for a medical,' the forward's agent Robert Geerlings said.

Van der Vaart struck 15 times in 36 appearances in his first season and then bagged 13 more goals in his second year in England. He signed for Harry Redknapp on deadline day two years ago.

Previously he spoke about a potential return to the club he spent three years at before joining Real Madrid.

He said: 'I spent three years living in Hamburg and had a wonderful time at HSV. My wife Sylvie works there and we have many friends who live in your country [Germany].'

Grand plan: Andre Villas-Boas is overhauling the club

Grand plan: Andre Villas-Boas is overhauling the club

Gylfi Sigurdsson was signed in the
summer and is a natural replacement to play behind the striker in Van
der Vaart's favoured position.

Tottenham
have boosted their midfield with the 15m purchase of Moussa Dembele
from Fulham, but also lost Luka Modric to Real Madrid.

Van der Vaart's wife Sylvie tweeted: 'Thank you Spurs, and all the fans for an amazing time!You guys have the greatest team in England. Will ♥ you always#coys Time to go home now ♥'

Tottenham have agreed a 22m deal with Porto for Joao Moutinho who will replace the Dutchman in Villas-Boas' squad.

Rafael van der Vaart Hamburg move scrapped

Van der Vaart homecoming on scrapheap after Hamburg chief cancels 9.5m deal

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UPDATED:

23:15 GMT, 23 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Rafael Van Der Vaart’s wish to return to Hamburg has been scuppered after the club’s billionaire benefactor decided against bankrolling it.

Encouraged by earlier assurances that they could count on financial backing from 75-year old local businessman Klaus-Michael Kuehne, Hamburg registered their interest in Tottenham midfielder Van der Vaart and were in advanced talks with about signing him for 9.5million.

But they were forced to ditch their interest after Kuehne, whose wealth from his transportation and logistics business makes him Germany’s seventh richest man, pulled the plug on the deal.

No go: Rafael van der Vaart's move has been scuppered

No go: Rafael van der Vaart's move has been scuppered

Club officials confirmed last night they couldn’t hope to proceed without Kuenhe’s input and that the transfer was off.

The about-turn is a setback for van
der Vaart, whose wife works near Hamburg and who admitted just two
months ago that he ‘still loves the club’ after spending three seasons
there, prior to joining Real Madrid.

Kuenhe seemed to be urging Hamburg to
follow up their long-standing interest in van der Vaart earlier this
summer when he said: ‘I am an investor for new players and definitely
available. Hamburg must land a big transfer, because that will attract
more top players and make us even stronger.’

Asked whether it was his intention to sell the Holland international, the Portuguese said: 'No, on the contrary. He's a player of great importance for us, a player I count on.

'I'm not sure if Hamburg are interested but he's a player who at the moment is not for sale. Anything can happen but he's a player we are counting on.'

Spurs put great effort into landing Gylfi Sigurdsson this summer amid strong interest from Liverpool.

Plans: Andre Villas-Boas wants to keep Van der Vaart at the club

Plans: Andre Villas-Boas wants to keep Van der Vaart at the club

Villas-Boas seems to have a lot of faith in the former Hoffenheim player, but denied that Van der Vaart is no longer in his first-team plans.

'Rafa was very unlucky because when he came from his vacation after the Euros he got injured in the game against LA Galaxy so he missed most of our pre-season in America and Sigurdsson was with us all pre-season,' Villas-Boas said.

'He couldn't therefore play against Watford and Valencia so he came back late for selection and it was pretty straightforward to select Sigurdsson for the Newcastle game.

'Now Rafa has trained with us all week and he's looking strong and in contention.'

Roman Abramovich"s tells Andre Villas-Boas fourth is not enough

Roman lays down the law at Chelsea as AVB admits fourth is not enough

Roman Abramovich has warned Andre Villas-Boas that a fourth-placed finish in the Barclays Premier League will not be good enough.

Abramovich stood on the training ground on Thursday to watch Villas-Boas at work for the fourth successive day. Chelsea’s billionaire benefactor wore an orange and black coach’s jacket as Villas-Boas prepared the team for Saturday's trip to Everton.

Abramovich has spent five of the last six days on the shoulders of the young manager, monitoring his relationship with the squad.

Training day: Andre Villas-Boas and Roman Abramovich are all smiles at Cobham

Training day: Andre Villas-Boas and Roman Abramovich are all smiles at Cobham

DANNY'S NOT A WIDE BOY

Chelsea are wasting Daniel Sturridge by playing him as a winger, according to his father Michael. He said: ‘When he plays striker you will see a big improvement.’

Chelsea are fourth in the table, seven points behind third-placed Tottenham and 14 behind leaders Manchester City, but are still in the Champions League and FA Cup.

Villas-Boas, 34, said: 'Finishing
fourth will not be honourable for a club of Chelsea’s size. Given their
success, the owner has made it known. He is used to the club finishing
first or being runners-up.

'The reality is that in the last few
years there has been a pattern of managers shifting at this club. I’m
not saying they paid with their jobs. It was because Roman decided that
they should. End of story.

'When we set up at the start of the
season, we believed that the team was ready for four trophies. At the
moment, we have a Champions League objective because the Premier League
objective is not possible.'

Setting targets: Villas-Boas is under little illusion as to the tasks facing him

Setting targets: Villas-Boas is under little illusion as to the tasks facing him

Abramovich has held a series of
meetings with Villas-Boas and the coaching staff since he unexpectedly
turned up at training last Saturday. The Russian watched preparations
for Sunday’s clash with Manchester United before asking Villas-Boas for
his tactics for the game.

Former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti
claimed life became 'intolerable' towards the end of his two-year spell
at Stamford Bridge, but Villas-Boas insists he can handle Abramovich’s
presence.

He said: 'He knows a lot, he is very informed. He follows English and European football, so it’s good to have an opinion.

'As for turning up, I don’t always
know – sometimes yes, sometimes no. It is legitimate for him to be
there. He is a good person to share knowledge with. He asks me questions
and I try to give him answers. There is great empathy and motivation
for next year’s project. His focus is with Chelsea, that is what he has
transmitted to me.'