Tag Archives: helping

Mario Balotelli helps AC Milan beat Chievo 1-0

Balotelli inspires Milan to victory over Chievo as race for Champions League spots hots up

PUBLISHED:

20:02 GMT, 30 March 2013

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UPDATED:

20:02 GMT, 30 March 2013

Mario Balotelli helped AC Milan take a huge step towards securing Champions League football by playing a major role in the Rossoneri’s win over Chievo Verona.

Milan moved provisionally into second place in Serie A after they won 1-0 and Fiorentina and Roma both lost.

The win lifts Milan six points above fourth-place Fiorentina as the race for next seasons Champions League hots up.

Helping hand: Mario Balotelli played his part in Milan's win

Helping hand: Mario Balotelli played his part in Milan's win

Beating his man: Balotelli skips past Luca Rigoni

Beating his man: Balotelli skips past Luca Rigoni

Celebration time: AC Milan's midfielder Riccardo Montolivo celebrates with Balotelli and teammates after scoring

Celebration time: AC Milan's midfielder Riccardo Montolivo celebrates with Balotelli and teammates after scoring

Chievo goalkeeper Christian Puggioni could only parry Balotelli's fierce free kick and Riccardo Montolivo was quickest to react and smashed home the rebound.

Dario Dainelli was sent off for Chievo following a second booking 13 minutes from time.

Serbia v Scotland World Cup qualifier to go ahead despite snow

Scotland's World Cup qualifier in snowy Serbia set to go ahead as Tartan Army dig in to help clear pitch

By
Stuart Fraser

PUBLISHED:

11:40 GMT, 26 March 2013

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UPDATED:

14:04 GMT, 26 March 2013

Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Serbia is set to go ahead, despite continuing heavy snowfall.

Gordon Strachan's side are due to play tonight in the city of Novi Sad, around an hour north west of the Scots' base in Belgrade, and work to clear the Karadjordje Stadium pitch is underway.

Digging in: Members of the Tartan Army help clear the pitch in Novi Sad

Digging in: Members of the Tartan Army help clear the pitch in Novi Sad

Helping hand: Scotland fan David Wildridge clears snow from the seats in the Karadjordje Stadium

Helping hand: Scotland fan David Wildridge clears snow from the seats in the Karadjordje Stadium

The Serbia FA and the Scottish FA are continuing to monitor the situation, the latter tweeting: 'Serbia v Scotland on as it stands. Serbia FA clearing pitch of snow.'

Around 1,200 members of the Tartan Army are expected to attend the match, which would be rescheduled for Wednesday if it was postponed tonight.

Snow: The scene outside the Scotland team hotel in Belgrade this morning

Snow: The scene outside the Scotland team hotel in Belgrade this morning

Wrapped up: Strachan tries to keep warm during Scotland's training session in Belgrade last night

Wrapped up: Strachan tries to keep warm during Scotland's training session in Belgrade last night

Scotland are currently bottom of Group A with two points from five games after losing 2-1 to Wales in the snow at Hampden on Friday.

With qualification hopes for the World Cup almost certainly over, Strachan is set make a number of changes to his team tonight against Serbia, who sit fourth with four points.

Warming up: Scotland trained at the Partizan Belgrade Academy ahead of tonight's match against Serbia

Warming up: Scotland trained at the Partizan Belgrade Academy ahead of tonight's match against Serbia

Defeat: Scotland lost out in the Glasgow snow on Friday night as they were beaten 2-1 by Wales

Defeat: Scotland lost out in the Glasgow snow on Friday night as they were beaten 2-1 by Wales

David Beckham makes Paris Saint-Germain debut in 2-0 win over Olympique Marseille

PSG 2 Marseille 0: Winning start for Beckham as English star has a hand in second goal during 15-minute debut

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

22:01 GMT, 24 February 2013

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UPDATED:

22:10 GMT, 24 February 2013

David Beckham made a winning debut for Paris Saint-Germain as they took a big step towards the French championship with a 2-0 win over bitter rivals Marseille.

The former England captain came on with 15 minutes remaining and had a hand in his new team's second goal, scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Earlier, Lucas Moura's shot was deflected off Joey Barton and Nicolas N'Koulou to give the hosts a 10th minute lead.

Debut: David Beckham came off the bench in the 76th minute to make his first appearance for new club Paris Saint-Germain in their 2-0 win over rivals Marseille

Debut: David Beckham came off the bench in the 76th minute to make his first appearance for new club Paris Saint-Germain in their 2-0 win over rivals Marseille

First start: Beckham started on the bench and came on for Javier Pastore in the closing stages

First start: Beckham started on the bench and came on for Javier Pastore in the closing stages

Helping hand: In blizzard-like conditions in Paris, Beckham played a part in PSG's second goal, scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Helping hand: In blizzard-like conditions in Paris, Beckham played a part in PSG's second goal, scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Barton played from the start for Marseille, but Beckham had to make do with a start on the bench in snowy Paris.

He completed two warm-ups during the
second-half and replaced Javier Pastore in the 76th minute. Beckham's
passing looked as sharp and reliable as ever, as he connected with
teammates Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jeremy Menez, Ezequiel Lavezzi and others.

And it was Beckham who chipped a ball
over the Marseille defence into the path of Menez in the first minute
of injury time. Menez crossed and Ibrahimovic deflected the ball past
Steve Mandanda with his knee.

In an open and entertaining game, PSG failed to fully capitalise on an early lead gained fortuitously when Moura's shot, which was going wide, deflected first off Barton and then off N'Koulou to wrong foot Mandanda in goal.

Marseille, inspired by the excellent Mathieu Valbuena, created a number of good openings to equalise and PSG keeper Salvatore Sirigu saved smartly on a number of occasions.

The win is significant for PSG, who are chasing a third French title, as it took them back above Lyon, who had beaten Lorient 3-1 earlier in the day.

More to follow…

Contrasting fortunes: Joey Barton can only look on in disappointment as Beckham hugs Ibrahimovic after the second goal

Contrasting fortunes: Joey Barton can only look on in disappointment as Beckham hugs Ibrahimovic after the second goal

Tom Daley"s Olympic diving partner Peter Waterfield has a "Wayne Rooney" hair transplant

Daley's Olympic diving partner Waterfield has a 'Rooney' hair transplant
Waterfield, 31, says that with his Cockney accent and shaved head, people often mistook him for a thugDecided that a hair transplant was best way to soften his imageHad 4,200
individual hairs moved from the back of his scalp to the front

PUBLISHED:

17:17 GMT, 25 January 2013

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UPDATED:

18:00 GMT, 25 January 2013

He wowed us all with his spectacular dives alongside Tom Daley at the Olympics and is the most successful diver in British Olympic history.

Yet despite his achievements over the last four Olympic games, Peter Waterfield has always had an image problem.

With a strong Cockney accent and a shaven head – done to disguise hair loss which has dogged him since he was teenager – he admits that many people mistook him for a 'thug.'

He badly wanted to soften his image and decided the obvious solution was a hair transplant.

Peter Waterfield (left) and his diving partner Tom Daley at this summer's Olympics

Team GB divers Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield

Peter (left) with his diving partner Tom Daley. He said he felt his baldness make him 'look like a thug'

Peter, 31, has a strong baldness gene in his family and both his brothers have lost their hair.

The father-of-two said: 'I started going bald when I was 18 which is when I got really serious about diving, although I've been told this had nothing to do with it.

'I had completely lost my hairline and the only way to cover it up was by shaving my head.

'I come from the East End of London and I would find that people could
sometimes be intimidated by my Cockney accent and my shaved head.

'I think some people wrongly got the impression that I was a bit of a thug – which could not be further from the truth.

'I am a loving family man who has dedicated my life to diving and helping others.'

Peter before the treatment. He has a strong family history of hair loss, which began when he was 18

Peter before the treatment. The purple line marks where the hair would be transplanted

Peter after the treatment, which involved moving 4,200 hairs from the back of his head to the top of his scalp to restore his hairline

Peter after the treatment, which involved moving 4,200 hairs from the back of his head to the top of his scalp to restore his hairline

The silver medallist lives in Southampton with his wife Tania, 30, and sons Lewis, 11, and Marshall, four.

He
added: 'I wanted to soften my whole image and make sure that I was a
little more approachable to strangers. The best way to do that was by
having a hair transplant.'

Peter had approximately 4,200 hairs moved from the back of his head to
the top of his scalp to restore his hairline at the Crown Clinic in
Manchester.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Peter had the same Follicle Unit
Extraction procedure as Wayne Rooney – moving 2,500 grafts (some 4,200
individual hairs) from the back of his scalp to the front.

During the procedure last month, around 1,500 grafts were transplanted to his hairline and a further
1,000 were transplanted to bolster his hair at the top of his scalp.

It will take around a year for the full benefits of the procedure to show as the transplanted hair grows back.

There has been 25 per cent rise in the number of men having hair transplants in
the last five years as the technology improves and high-profile stars
such as Wayne Rooney and the Cold Feet actor James Nesbitt have gone public to
show the benefits of the procedures.

Running in the family: Peter has a strong baldness gene in his family and both his brothers have lost their hair

Running in the family: Peter
has a strong baldness gene in his family and both his brothers have lost their hair

The procedure was carried out by hair transplant surgeon Asim Shahmalak.

He has performed similar procedures on a string of
celebrities including Dr Christian Jessen from Embarrassing Bodies and
the model and TV presenter Calum Best.

Dr Shahmalak said: 'There are seven categories of male pattern baldness. Category one indicates no hair loss and seven is total hair loss.

'Peter ranked as a 5A – indicating substantial hair loss due to his family history. Like a lot of the men I have treated, he found that the
transplant significantly boosted his self-esteem.

'He looks and feels a lot younger, too. There is no doubt that a hair transplant can completely transform a man’s life.'

Peter said: 'I am so glad that I had it done – I feel so much more confident now. I am really looking forward to being able to grow my hair for the first time since I was a teenager and present a new image of myself to the world.'

He is now Peter is looking forward to competing in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 with Tom Daley, despite uncertainty over his funding.

He said: 'We are both really excited about the Commonwealth Games, and hopefully I can also go on and compete at a fifth Olympics in Brazil in 2016.'

THE PAINSTAKING PROCESS OF HAIR TRANSPLANTS

Hair transplantation is the only method that is guaranteed to overcome hair loss and regain hair. Medications can halt hair loss but they will not lead to the regrowth of lost hair.

There types of hair transplant. In both cases, transplantation can be done so well that often a barber or stylist cannot even tell that grafts have been placed. The transplanted hair is permanent and in nearly all cases will stay in place for the rest of the patient’s life.

The most popular and cost-effective method is called Follicular Unit Transplantation – popularly known as ‘strip harvesting’ – where hair follicles are removed in a ‘strip’ of skin from the back or side of the head and moved to the thinning areas at the top of the scalp.

The second technique – and the one Peter Waterfield had – is called Follicular United Extraction. It is more expensive than strip harvesting and is the procedure which was used on Wayne Rooney when he had his transplant in 2011.

The main difference is the hairs follicles are removed and transplanted individually as opposed to in one single strip.

It is more time consuming – and therefore more expensive – than strip harvesting. This method is particularly popular with men who like to keep their hair short because there is virtually no scarring.

In Follicular Unit Extraction, or FUE, individual follicles are extracted directly from the back or side of scalp, usually one at a time.

There will be some minor scarring – which looks like pin pricks – immediately after the operation but this disappears during the healing process which takes approximately 5-7 days after which any redness or slight swelling in the treatment area will have subsided.

FUE generally has a quicker patient recovery time and lower post-operative discomfort than strip harvesting.

Rafa Benitez: Winning will silence Chelsea fans

Only winning will silence abuse from Chelsea fans, admits Benitez

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UPDATED:

12:13 GMT, 21 December 2012

Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has admitted he does not understand the supporters who still abuse him in the stands and chant the name of former boss Roberto Di Matteo.

The Spaniard has been subjected to taunts from the Stamford Bridge crowd since his first game in charge, a 0-0 draw with Manchester City last month.

But Benitez, who led Chelsea to a 5-1 win over Leeds in the Capital One Cup in midweek, hopes improved results can silence the doubters.

In the hotseat: Rafa Benitez told Spanish radio he plans to silence the Chelsea doubters

In the hotseat: Rafa Benitez told Spanish radio he plans to silence the Chelsea doubters

'I have a challenge, that is to win and do well, it’s about time to
convince many,' he told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

'If we can win, convincing will be easier, it says “be
quiet”, sometimes I do not understand the songs (fans sing against him),
I’m focused on the game and do not know what happens in the stands.'

Benitez has also brought about an improvement in maligned striker Fernando Torres with his Spanish counterpart scoring six goals in his last five games.

Under fire: Rafa Benitez has been abused by the Chelsea fans who preferred Roberto Di Mateo (below)

Under fire: Rafa Benitez has been abused by the Chelsea fans who preferred Roberto Di Mateo (below)

Roberto Di Matteo

'Fernando is working very hard, I have the ability to talk to him in
Spanish, but he can still improve and he knows it.

'We are making small
adjustments to the tactics and motivation, and Torres is trying to help
the team a lot. His main job has to be to attack and be as close as
possible to the area.'

Former Liverpool manager Benitez also admitted it can be difficult to adapt to England after spending so long in Spain.

Helping hand: Benitez has brought the best of Fernando Torres after linking up with the striker again

Helping hand: Benitez has brought the best of Fernando Torres after linking up with the striker again

'I spent 20 years in Spain and six here, and it is a very nice place but you have to adapt, if you don’t it is very difficult to bring players, the family does not fit,' he added.

'There is a lot of tradition, it’s all very endearing, it’s a very beautiful place. In England football is lived differently and to train here is very nice.'

Roberto Martinez promises Sir Alex Ferguson that Angelo Henriquez will return to Manchester United in form

I'll be Cleverley with Henriquez! Martinez vows to improve United's loan ranger just like he did with Tom

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UPDATED:

06:56 GMT, 21 December 2012

Roberto Martinez has promised Sir Alex Ferguson he will send Angelo Henriquez back to Manchester United ready to challenge for a regular starting spot.

The Wigan boss has pulled off quite the coup in agreeing in principle a loan deal for the Chilean striker, who joined Manchester United last summer Unversidad de Chile

Henriquez, a full international despite being just 19 years old, has struggled to make any inroads on Ferguson's first-team, and has even missed out on opportunities with the reserves.

Helping hand: Roberto Martinez has promised to develop Angelo Henriquez

Helping hand: Roberto Martinez has promised to develop Angelo Henriquez

Helping hand: Roberto Martinez has promised to develop Angelo Henriquez

Martinez has previous when it comes to shaping the career of young United players, namely Tom Cleverly who enjoyed a stint at the DW Stadium in 2010 and is now a regular in the England side.

The Latics' boss said: 'Angelo is as good a goalscorer as you will find. He scored goals at Universidad de Chile and he is going to score goals here.

'I am sure he will be an important player for United. We are glad we can work with him and he can use Wigan as Tom Cleverley did and adapt to what is needed in this league.'

Real Sociedad players wear fans" names on their shirts instead of a sponsor

Real Sociedad players keep fans close to their hearts… by wearing their names instead of a shirt sponsor

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UPDATED:

05:58 GMT, 21 December 2012

Real Sociedad have delighted some of their supporters by wearing their names on their shirts in place of a sponsor.

Each player wore the name of a randomly selected club member out of a pool of 25,000 as they took to the field against Sevilla.

They pleased the supporters further still with a 2-1 home win in the La Liga clash at the Anoeta stadium, with former Arsenal striker Carlos Vela opening the scoring.

Thanks for the support: Real Sociedad players wear fans' names on their shirts

Thanks for the support: Real Sociedad players wear fans' names on their shirts

Club president Jokin Aperribay said: 'The fans are the soul, the nourishment and the reason for Real Sociedad. For this reason, we’re uniting the names of our members with the shirts.'

Aperribay added: 'It’s for the history, because the fans are the of the club and this is a tribute to those that have supported us for many years.

'When we went down to the Segunda, we
overcame that difficulty because we retained 20,000 members. For the
present, because the fans show enthusiasm, which the team receives and
returns to them.

'We want to achieve bigger
objectives, but we can’t do that without the fans. For the future,
because that will be determined by the fans.

'It is very important that fans feel
they are necessary for the club to function. For that reason, we decided
to unite two of the most important things at Real Sociedad – The fans
and the shirt.'

Helping hand Sociedad ended up beating Sevilla 2-1

Helping hand Sociedad ended up beating Sevilla 2-1

Carlos Vela (left) gets stuck in

Alberto de la Bella (left) duels for the ball

Midfielder Xabi Prieto, who has been a
member at the club since 1992, said: 'We’re fortunate that we can play
every week. Against Sevilla, we’ll have our members playing with us.'

Sociedad have named the fan-appreciation initiative 'we carry you on our shirts'.

Previously they thanked their fans for their support by naming 22 of them in a television advert.

Last
season in La Liga nearly half of sides did not have a shirt sponsor
leading to creativite options coming to the fore as they looked to make
money.

Valencia used their
Twitter address instead, while Sevilla charged supporters around 25 to have
their faces used to create the numbers on the back of shirts.

Getting shirty: Sevilla asked fans to pay to have their faces put onto the players' strips

Getting shirty: Sevilla asked fans to pay to have their faces put onto the players' strips

Real Sociedad wear players names instead of shirt sponsor

Real Sociedad players keep fans close to their hearts… by wearing their names instead of a shirt sponsor

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UPDATED:

00:22 GMT, 21 December 2012

Real Sociedad have delighted some of their supporters by wearing their names on their shirts in place of a sponsor.

Each player wore the name of a randomly selected club member out of a pool of 25,000 as they took to the field against Sevilla.

They pleased the supporters further still with a 2-1 home win in the La Liga clash at the Anoeta stadium, with former Arsenal striker Carlos Vela opening the scoring.

Thanks for the support: Real Sociedad players wear fans' names on their shirts

Thanks for the support: Real Sociedad players wear fans' names on their shirts

Club president Jokin Aperribay said: 'The fans are the soul, the nourishment and the reason for Real Sociedad. For this reason, we’re uniting the names of our members with the shirts.'

Aperribay added: 'It’s for the history, because the fans are the of the club and this is a tribute to those that have supported us for many years.

'When we went down to the Segunda, we
overcame that difficulty because we retained 20,000 members. For the
present, because the fans show enthusiasm, which the team receives and
returns to them.

'We want to achieve bigger
objectives, but we can’t do that without the fans. For the future,
because that will be determined by the fans.

'It is very important that fans feel
they are necessary for the club to function. For that reason, we decided
to unite two of the most important things at Real Sociedad – The fans
and the shirt.'

Helping hand Sociedad ended up beating Sevilla 2-1

Helping hand Sociedad ended up beating Sevilla 2-1

Carlos Vela (left) gets stuck in

Alberto de la Bella (left) duels for the ball

Midfielder Xabi Prieto, who has been a
member at the club since 1992, said: 'We’re fortunate that we can play
every week. Against Sevilla, we’ll have our members playing with us.'

Sociedad have named the fan-appreciation initiative 'we carry you on our shirts'.

Previously they thanked their fans for their support by naming 22 of them in a television advert.

Last
season in La Liga nearly half of sides did not have a shirt sponsor
leading to creativite options coming to the fore as they looked to make
money.

Valencia used their
Twitter address instead, while Sevilla charged supporters around 25 to have
their faces used to create the numbers on the back of shirts.

Getting shirty: Sevilla asked fans to pay to have their faces put onto the players' strips

Getting shirty: Sevilla asked fans to pay to have their faces put onto the players' strips

Joey Barton plays for Marseille behind closed doors

Barton blasts 'farmer's field' after Marseille beat Bastia behind closed doors

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UPDATED:

00:13 GMT, 13 December 2012

Joey Barton helped Marseille to a 2-1 win against Bastia last night – but there was no-one in the stands to see it.

Bastia were forced to play the match behind closed doors after their clash with Ajaccio in October descended into chaos.

The Corsican derby was stopped for five minutes after fans of both teams started fighting and threw fireworks following a mass brawl on the pitch.

Helping hand: Joey Barton's Marseille beat Bastia to continue to keep in touch with the league leaders

Helping hand: Joey Barton's Marseille beat Bastia to continue to keep in touch with the league leaders

Mathieu Valbuena deservedly put Marseille ahead with a
superb volley from just inside the box in the 15th minute.

Andre Ayew doubled the lead from the penalty spot on 70
minutes after goalkeeper Landry Bonnefoi had fouled his younger brother Jordan.

Empty: Bastia were forced to play behind closed doors after trouble in their match with Ajaccio

Empty: Bastia were forced to play behind closed doors after trouble in their match with Ajaccio

Locked out: Fans were forced to watch the match on a big screen outside the ground

Locked out: Fans were forced to watch the match on a big screen outside the ground

Anthony Modeste scored a late goal but Bastia did not go on
to worry the visitors, who clinched their sixth away league win and also
welcomed back striker Andre-Pierre Gignac six weeks after he suffered a broken
foot.

Barton later tweeted: 'Great 3 points on that farmers field. No fans in the stadium but loads outside throwing fireworks. Freezing cold showers as well.'

Marseille are third in Ligue One, level on points with Paris Saint-Germain.

Taking aim: Wahbi Khazri of Bastia (left) lines up a shot during his side's defeat

Taking aim: Wahbi Khazri of Bastia (left) lines up a shot during his side's defeat

Rafael Benitez under pressure at Chelsea as Roman Abramovich ponders his options again

Stick with Rafa Call for Avram Or go all out for Guardiola Just 12 days into the Benitez era, Abramovich is at the crossroads again…

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UPDATED:

11:58 GMT, 3 December 2012

Just two weeks ago, Roman Abramovich thought he had chosen the right man and the right path.

Sure, the appointment of Rafael Benitez as manager came with the caveat of the word ‘interim’ but, the Russian believed, that would do nicely for now.

However, just a few footsteps along that new path and Abramovich finds himself confronted with yet another crossroads. He is standing there scratching his head in disbelief, trying to solve another colossal dilemma.

Much to ponder: Following a poor start to the Rafael Benitez era, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich finds himself facing another dilemma

Much to ponder: Following a poor start to the Rafael Benitez era, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich finds himself facing another dilemma

Slow start: Chelsea have collected just two points from nine since Benitez took charge and were beaten 3-1 by West Ham United at the weekend

Slow start: Chelsea have collected just two points from nine since Benitez took charge and were beaten 3-1 by West Ham United at the weekend

He has three routes to select from. The first is to break habit and show faith in his appointment, to overlook the two points gained from nine thus far, to have patience and give time and money so Benitez can gradually impose his ways and whims on the club and its players. This route looks long and winding.

The second is to give Benitez a helping hand – to bring back former manager Avram Grant as an adviser in the hope his familiarity with the club’s inner workings will help to arrest a slump in form that has had some pundits already handing the Premier League title to Manchester. This route looks shorter and straighter, but is not without its perils.

Third is to radically shake things up again, to thrown every conceivable ruble, incentive and sweetener in the direction of Pep Guardiola, the man Abramovich surely sees as the proper long-term choice. This route looks particularly arduous but it could lead to a pot of gold at the end.

It’s almost like the dilemma of a contestant stuck on a question on Who Wants to be a Millionaire Does he phone a friend in Avram for a 50:50 It’s probably best not to ask the audience right now.

Helping hand: Avram Grant (right), who was in charge of Chelsea when they beat Benitez's Liverpool in the 2008 Champions League semi-final, could return in an advisory role

Helping hand: Avram Grant (right), who was in charge of Chelsea when they beat Benitez's Liverpool in the 2008 Champions League semi-final, could return in an advisory role

CHELSEA'S BUSY DECEMBER

December 5 – Nordsjaelland (H) Champions League
December 8 – Sunderland (A)
December 13 – Club World Cup semi-final in Yokohama
December 16 – Club World Cup final or third place play-off in Yokohama
December 19 – Leeds United (A) League Cup quarter-final
December 23 – Aston Villa (H)
December 26 – Norwich City (A)
December 30 – Everton (A)

And as he stands at the crossroads pondering his options once again, Abramovich can hear the dissent of the fans – the jeers and the pointed vitriol at Benitez, the choruses of ‘Roberto Di Matteo’ – and above even that clamour, he can hear a clock ticking.

Whatever his choice, he needs to make it quickly. Chelsea are now entering a frenetic and unforgiving month of eight matches in 26 days. /12/03/article-2242179-16260C1D000005DC-645_306x431.jpg” width=”306″ height=”431″ alt=”Victor Moses of Chelsea” class=”blkBorder” />

John Obi Mikel of Chelsea

Absentees: Victor Moses (left) and John Obi Mikel will be playing in the African Cup of Nations early next year

Rafa's records panel

This is where the second path looks less appealing. Avram Grant isn’t going to suddenly reinvigorate the faltering energy levels of an apparently ‘small’ group of players – and his appointment could prove more trouble than it’s worth.

Benitez and Grant have a cordial relationship but how quickly this will sour under the pressure of chasing results. There will be uncertainty and conflicting ideas on who to field and how to play.

While both know the way to the Champions League final – Grant’s Chelsea beat Benitez’s Liverpool, of course, in the 2008 semi-finals – it’s doubtful they can work well together in such an environment, with the axe swinging above their heads.

The bottom line is that the arrival of Grant would fatally undermine Benitez and hasten his exit. It would not be possible for him to be more ‘Interim.’

The Spaniard’s credibility, already running on empty in the eyes of most Chelsea fans, would hit rock bottom. While Grant is more popular among the Stamford Bridge faithful, he’s hardly the charismatic ‘fixer’ that is required and not a great deal better than Benitez.

Not wanted: Chelsea fans have been quick to make their frustrations known over the appointment of Benitez

Not wanted: Chelsea fans have been quick to make their frustrations known over the appointment of Benitez

If Abramovich stands by Benitez, he will feel obliged to ask his manager for a list of players to chase in the transfer window. If Benitez is saying now – and he made this very clear to the owner within days of his arrival – that his squad isn’t big enough, then by the end of December, after another eight games and a trip round the world have taken their toll, he’ll be practically hammering on the door calling for reinforcements.

The question is whether Abramovich will be willing to spend having paid the best part of 50m in the summer and over 90m last season on exciting players intended to deliver the attractive, attacking brand of football he demands. The kind of attractive, attacking football they were playing earlier in the season under Di Matteo.

Benitez has identified a left-back, a central midfielder and a striker as priorities, but there’s every chance the Russian will turn around and say ‘chequebook closed’ and order his stopgap boss to make the best of the expensive bunch he has.

He will expect Benitez – as the manager who knows him best – to get the best out of 50m Fernando Torres and, if the faith he has shown in the Spanish striker so far despite his patchy form is anything to go by, will be reluctant to bring in a front man who could usurp him.

Out of sorts: The sight of Fernando Torres looking dejected has become one of the defining images of the season

Out of sorts: The sight of Fernando Torres looking dejected has become one of the defining images of the season

Or Abramovich may see the third way as a more worthwhile outlay. Approaching Guardiola would be costly, involve difficult negotiations and destroy the reputation of Benitez, but that may be a small price to pay for accelerating his desired long-term appointment of someone who would deliver not only wins but a way of playing that matches his vision.

Pep would be an elixir for Chelsea but persuading him to cut short a sabbatical from the game he seems to be really enjoying will be tricky – remember, Abramovich failed to convince him to make a comeback after Di Matteo went last month.

And, frankly, he may decide, with other top clubs including Manchester City after him, it isn’t worth the bother.

Benitez is 12 days in to his reign at Chelsea and it’s already looking ominous for him. If the 12 Days of Christmas prove similarly unkind, then Abramovich will once again be choosing a different path.