Rafa 1 Roman 0: Benitez forces Abramovich to bring in Zenden as his No 2… but there could be trouble brewing over new staff
17:59 GMT, 22 November 2012
Rafa Benitez has struck an early blow in his dealings with Roman Abramovich after Chelsea's ruthless owner bowed to the Spaniard's demands and allowed him to bring in Boudewijn Zenden as his No 2.
Benitez, who is being unveiled at a 5.30pm press conference, has been appointed interim manager in the wake of Roberto Di Matteo’s brutal dismissal and met Chelsea’s shell-shocked players today.
And he has brought former Chelsea player Zenden, who played under the Spaniard at Liverpool, as his assistant. It is his first coaching role since retiring from football.
Benitez has also been allowed to recruit a fitness coach and a goalkeeper coach – but the new arrivals might not please everyone at Stamford Bridge. Petr Cech for one insists on only working with coach Christian Lollichon.
Scroll down for video…
Welcome back: Boudewijn Zenden spent three seasons at Chelsea
Reunited: Zenden played under Rafa Benitez during his time at Liverpool
Chelsea in chaos
SIMON JONES: Why Rafa Benitez is now ready to lead Chelsea after his previous snub
NEIL ASHTON: How Chelsea approached Guardiola a MONTH ago…
ANDY TOWNSEND: The uneasy atmosphere at Chelsea's team hotel in Turin
JOHN EDWARDS: Trophies, turmoil and constant sackings! Inside the crazy world of Roman's Chelsea
JON DOLAN: The Chelsea season ticket holder's view on Rafa Benitez
Zenden spent three seasons at Stamford
Bridge after signing from Barcelona in 2001. He left to join
Middlesbrough but signed for Liverpool under Benitez a year later.
He was approached on Wednesday by Benitez and is now on a flight [to London],' Zenden's agent and father Pierre Zenden told VI.nl.
'Since yesterday he phoned Benitez many times. I assume that he will be on the pitch this afternoon, together with the manager. I assume he will finish the season, just like Benitez.'
Zenden famously made himself look a little daft celebrating a Sunderland goal AGAINST Chelsea when Asamoah Gyan jigged with joy. Bolo struck a bum note – as shown in the first video below.
Sportsmail exclusively revealed
yesterday that Di Matteo was to be sacked and replaced by Benitez after
Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat against Juventus. The axe duly fell at the club’s
training ground in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Roman Abramovich wants former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola to be Di
Matteo’s long-term successor, and has offered to make him the
highest-paid manager in the world on 15million a year.
Guardiola’s representatives say he will not make a decision on his future until the new year, but it is understood a deal with Chelsea has been agreed in principle. He was approached after Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on October 23.
Benitez, who is unpopular with Chelsea fans because of his time as Liverpool manager, will take charge of his first game against Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Fans reacted angrily to his appointment, with Chelsea Supporters Group chair Trizia Fiorellino telling Radio5 Live: ‘Chelsea pulled the rug from under Roberto Di Matteo, which was just ludicrous. Now they have got in someone of Benitez’s calibre. He is a poor manager. Nobody has wanted to employ him for two years. What does that tell you He is the wrong choice for Chelsea and the fans do not want him.’
VIDEO: If rhythm is a dancer, Bolo's definitely a chancer…
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Win them over: Chelsea fans have always enjoyed a frosty relationship with Rafa Benitez
The Spaniard, who flew back to the UK last night after attending a coaching conference in Abu Dhabi, has been given a six-month contract at Stamford Bridge.
Di Matteo was fired by Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and chief executive Ron Gourlay at the club’s training ground at 3am yesterday after they returned from Turin, where their defeat left the club in serious danger of becoming the first holders to go out in the group stage.
The 42-year-old Italian was crushed to be axed only six months after he guided Chelsea, a club he also served with distinction as a player, to Champions League and FA Cup glory as an emergency replacement for the dismissed Andre Villas-Boas.
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.
He released a statement last night in
which he pointedly thanked everyone except Abramovich and the club’s
senior management. ‘Lifting Chelsea’s first Champions League trophy was
the best achievement in club history and without doubt the highlight of
my career,’ he said. ‘I have a deep and unreserved passion for Chelsea
Football Club and I would like to sincerely thank all of the staff, my
players and of course the Chelsea fans, for their tremendous and
Assistant manager Eddie Newton, an ally of Di Matteo, will be fired and Steve Holland is also expected to be sacked.
Benitez, who guided Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005 and a second European Cup final two years later, agreed to take the job after 72 hours of negotiations.
He has the European experience and pedigree that Abramovich demands, but he has been told his priority is to finish in the top four of the Premier League to guarantee Champions League football.
A Chelsea statement issued last night said: ‘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 objectives. The two-time UEFA manager of the year comes with an outstanding pedigree.’
Down and out Chelsea were soundly beaten by Juventus in the Champions League last night
Were Chelsea right to sack Roberto Di Matteo
Click to view yesterday's poll results
Chelsea’s players are usually required to report for a light warm-down the day after a game, but Di Matteo gave them the day off after the Juve defeat. They will report for a 10.30am training session today and skipper John Terry, who is out with a knee injury, will introduce Benitez to the squad.
The 52-year-old has been out of work since he was fired by the then reigning European champions Inter Milan, just six months after replacing Jose Mourinho. Crucially, he has assured Abramovich he can restore 50m misfit Fernando Torres to former glories. Benitez brought Torres to Anfield from Atletico Madrid in 2007 and the Spain striker once claimed he was the ‘most important coach of my career’.
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
In a statement issued shortly after 9am yesterday, it was all Chelsea could do to thank Di Matteo for his contribution, noting that he had only ‘helped’ guide the side to the greatest moment in the club’s history.
‘The team’s recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the board felt a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction,’ said the statement.
‘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 and he will always be welcome at Stamford Bridge.’
Guardiola’s agent was yesterday quoted as saying: ‘He won’t decide which club he will coach until January or February. He alone will decide his future. Right now he is with his family, resting, reading, watching football.’
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