Rafa returns! Chelsea appoint Benitez as Di Matteo's replacement but Roman could face fan backlash over former Liverpool boss
21:20 GMT, 21 November 2012
Guardiola won't make Chelsea decision until 2013, claims agent
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Rafa Benitez has been appointed as
the new manager of Chelsea until the end of the season, replacing
Roberto Di Matteo who was ruthlessly sacked earlier in the day.
The decision – unpopular among many Chelsea diehards – means Roman Abramovich has his ninth manager in nine years as owner.
statement on the club website said: 'Chelsea Football Club can confirm
Rafael Benitez has been appointed interim first-team manager until the
end of the season.
'The owner and the Board believe that
in Benitez we have a manager with significant experience at the highest
level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our
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'The 52-year-old Spaniard is due to meet the players at the training ground in Cobham tomorrow.'
It is believed the former Liverpool
manager has taken the job until the end of the season, when he will be
replaced by Pep Guardiola. He flew in from Doha this afternoon for
The board held an emergency meeting on Wednesday afternoon to decide to offer the post to Benitez, ahead of Avram Grant.
Di Matteo was sacked, despite winning
the European Cup and the FA Cup last season. His dismissal came at 4am
on Wednesday, following a 3-0 defeat at Juventus in the Champions League
that left Chelsea on the brink of going out.
Win them over: Chelsea fans have always enjoyed a frosty relationship with Benitez, who faced no more than five managers at Stamford Bridge
Abramovich is desperate to land
Guardiola as the man to take over long-term. The former
Barcelona boss is currently on a year's sabbatical in New York.
Benitez told Sport360: 'I have just
found out [about Di Matteo]. Obviously Chelsea is a top side and they
can compete for trophies so it goes in this category.'
Asked if Chelsea had already made an
approach, he replied: 'You ask directly, I cannot answer directly. In
football a lot of people are talking so we will see what happens in the
next few days.
Game over: Di Matteo has been sacked, six months after landing the Champions League
Taxi! Bookmakers Coral delivered this stunt outside Stamford Bridge after Di Matteo's exit
Chelsea statement on Di Matteo – in full
Chelsea Football Club has parted company this morning with Manager Roberto Di Matteo.
The team's recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season.
The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions. Our aim is to remain as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.
The owner and the Board would like to thank Roberto for all he has done for the club since taking over in March. Roberto helped guide us to an historic Champions League victory and a seventh FA Cup. We will never forget the huge contribution he has made to this club's history and he will always be welcome at Stamford Bridge.
The club will be making an announcement shortly regarding a new first team manager.
'I am looking for a club that can challenge for trophies
and Chelsea is one of these clubs.'
Abramovich fired Di Matteo after an 'unacceptable' run of results.
A Chelsea statement read: ‘Chelsea Football Club has parted company this morning with manager Roberto Di Matteo.
‘The team's recent performances and
results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a
change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction
as we head into a vitally important part of the season.
'The club faces a difficult task ahead
in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as
well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League
while competing in three other cup competitions.
'Our aim is to remain
as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.
'The owner and the Board would like to
thank Roberto for all he has done for the club since taking over in
March. Roberto helped guide us to an historic Champions League victory
and a seventh FA Cup.
'We will never forget the huge contribution he has
made to this club's history and he will always be welcome at Stamford
Down and out Chelsea were soundly beaten by Juventus in the Champions League last night
Were Chelsea right to sack Roberto Di Matteo
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'The club will be making an announcement shortly regarding a new first team manager.'
Chelsea owner Abramovich, furious with the club's disastrous Champions League campaign, sacked him just hours after their 3-0 defeat at Juventus and training was cancelled for the day.
Di Matteo was informed of the decision during an emergency 4am meeting at the club's Cobham training base, just after the club had touched down back in England after the hour-and-a-half flight from Italy.
Chelsea executives met at Stamford Bridge at 9am after telling Di Matteo that his reign was over just six months after he led them to glory in the European Cup.
Guardiola is spending time in Manhattan with his family after four years in charge at the Nou Camp.
Who's next Guardiola and Benitez are in the frame to take the helm at Stamford Bridge
How Sportsmail's Neil Ashton led the way on Di Matteo's Chelsea sacking
Monday morning… Abramovich prepared to wield axe if results don't improve
Tuesday night… Guardiola and Benitez in frame to replace Di Matteo
Discreet enquires from Chelsea,
Manchester City and AC Milan have already taken place, with all three
clubs keen to steal a march on their rivals in the race to land the
Abramovich was furious that the team, who started the season with the chance to win seven trophies, are already in freefall.
Although he was prepared to overlook
the Community Shield defeat against Manchester City, he was furious with
the 4-1 defeat against Atletico Madrid in the Super Cup.
Abramovich’s circle made it clear that
they had to play seven games to 'qualify' for the Community shield and
that it should be treated seriously.
Likewise the 4-1 defeat against
Atletico in Monaco came after they won the Champions League final
against Bayern Munich and they wanted to win it.
Chelsea need a miracle to qualify from
Group E of the Champions League and are in danger of becoming the first
holders in the history of the competition to go out in the group phase.
They are four points behind this
weekend’s opponents Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League and
cannot afford another defeat after last week’s 2-1 loss at West
Hero to zero: Just months after landing the club an FA Cup and Champions League double, Di Matteo is out
Di Matteo's 'unacceptable' run of results
October 23: Shakhtar Donetsk 2 Chelsea 1 (Champions League)
October 28: Chelsea 2 Manchester United 3 (Premier League)
October 31: Chelsea 5 Manchester United 4 (Capital One Cup)
November 3: Swansea 1 Chelsea 1 (Premier League)
November 7: Chelsea 3 Shakhtar Donetsk 2 (Champions League)
November 11: Chelsea 1 Liverpool 1 (Premier League)
November 17: West Bromwich 2 Chelsea 1 (Premier League)
November 20: Juventus 3 Chelsea 0 (Champions League)
Eight managers, ten trophies, one billion pounds…
Claudio Ranieri (September 2000 to May 2004 – Abaramovich bought the club in June 2003)
Jose Mourinho (June 2004 – September 2007)
Avram Grant (September 2007 – May 2008)
Felipe Scolari (July 2008 – February 2009)
Guus Hiddink (February 2009 – May 2009)
Carlo Ancelotti (June 2009 – May 2011)
Andre Villas-Boas (June 2011 – March 2012)
Roberto Di Matteo (March 2012 – November 2012)
Rafa Benitez factfile
1960: Born Madrid, April 4.
1981: Leaves Real Madrid after seven years without ever playing for the first team and joins third division Parla.
1983: Part of the Parla side which gains promotion to Segunda B.
1986: After retiring as a player, appointed to Real Madrid's coaching staff, starting off with the juniors and working up to the Under-19s.
1994: Leads Real Madrid's B team to seventh in Spain's Segunda Division and ends the season as assistant to first-team coach Vicente del Bosque.
1995: Appointed coach of Valladolid but sacked after 23 games with the team bottom of the Primera Division.
1996: Takes over at Osasuna in second division, but lasts just nine games after recording one win.
1997: Joins Segunda Division outfit Extremadura and leads them to promotion.
1999: Extremadura relegated from top flight after play-off defeat to Villarreal.
1999-2000: Quits Extremadura to take a year's sabbatical to study coaching in Italy and England.
2000: Appointed boss of Segunda Division Tenerife and leads them to promotion.
2001: Replaces Hector Cuper at Valencia and leads the club to their first Spanish league title in 31 years.
2004: Leads Valencia to their first ever double, lifting the league title and the UEFA Cup.
June 1 – Valencia announce that Benitez and the club have agreed to part by mutual consent.
June 16 – Confirmed as Liverpool manager on five-year contract.
2005: May – Wins Champions League in his first season as Liverpool come from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 before beating AC Milan on penalties in Istanbul.
2007: February – American duo Tom Hicks and George Gillett buy the club from David Moores.
May – Benitez's side reach the Champions League final for the second time in three seasons but lose to AC Milan in Athens.
2008: Relations between Benitez and the Anfield hierarchy sour suddenly with doubts over the Spaniard's long-term future.
2009: March 18 – Benitez signs a new contract after months of uncertainty, keeping him at Anfield until 2014. Liverpool finish second to Manchester United in the Premier League.
2010: April 29 – After previous early exits from the Champions League and FA Cup, Liverpool are knocked out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage by Atletico Madrid.
May 9 – A goalless draw on the final day at relegated Hull confirms Liverpool finish the Barclays Premier League season in seventh – their worst position since 1999.
June 3 – Benitez leaves his job as Liverpool manager by mutual consent.
June 8 – Inter Milan confirm an agreement has been reached for Benitez to become their new head coach.
June 10 – Benitez is confirmed as head coach of Inter on a two-year deal, succeeding Jose Mourinho at the San Siro.
August 21 – Leads Inter to Italian Supercoppa triumph with 3-1 win over Roma at San Siro.
August 27 – Inter beaten 2-0 by Atletico Madrid in European Super Cup final in Monaco.
December 18 – Leads Inter to FIFA Club World Cup glory with 3-0 win over Congolese side Mazembe in Abu Dhabi final. Immediately then calls on club to back him in the transfer market in January or sack him.
December 23 – Inter announce Benitez's dismissal after agreeing the financial terms of his departure.
2012: November 21 – Benitez appointed Chelsea's interim first-team manager until the end of the season, replacing Roberto Di Matteo.
VIDEO: Di Matteo accepts full responsibility for the loss to Juventus after the match