Benitez: I didn't disrespect Chelsea fans when I criticised them, I was just defending Liverpool. I'll win them over … and I'll win trophies!
19:14 GMT, 22 November 2012
Rafa in his own words (sort of)
Check out an exclusive clip of what the new Blues boss might have to say for himself… at least according to 'the voice of football', impressionist Darren Farley (right).
Rafael Benitez had to defend himself from the wrath of supporters in his first press conference as Chelsea manager.
At his official unveiling at Stamford Bridge this evening, Benitez was grilled on the explosive comments he made against the London club during his time as Liverpool manager.
He said: 'I want to be honest. If I said this or
that, I have to analyze the context. We were playing against Chelsea in
the semi-finals of the Champions League. If I am a fan I want to see the
manager fighting for my club. I don't see this as a lack of respect for
Chelsea's fans, just a manager defending his team.
I'm back! Rafael Benitez held his first press conference as Chelsea manager at Stamford Bridge on Thursday
Under the microscope: Chelsea fans have been given their first glimpse of the new Blues boss
VIDEO: Watch Rafa Benitez's first press conference as Chelsea boss
'I like to do things in the right way
for the fans. The fans and manager want to win every single game,
nobody wants to win more than than fans and manager.
'This is a big challenge. I've been
waiting for this chance. I could have gone to other countries for big,
big money but I wanted to stay in England for a big club.'
Benitez said it was too early for him to
pass any comment on Mark Clattenburg after the FA cleared the referee
of any wrongdoing over his alleged comments at John Obi Mikel. He also revealed he had not had any direct contact with
Chelsea's trigger-happy Russian owner Roman Abramovich.
Benitez added: 'Di
Matteo was doing a great job. Sometimes in football you change managers
too soon, but that's life. Have you seen my CV I have all the trophies
you can win at club level.
was looking for the right opportunity at a top side to fight for a
trophy. I don't care about the short term. I want to win every game – we
have five trophies to fight for and at the end we will see what
Remember me Rafa Benitez takes his first Chelsea training session on Thursday afternoon
Revival bid: Benitez gets to work on making Torres score goals again for the Blues
New man: Benitez arrives at their Cobham HQ (right) before assessing his new workplace
months you can win some trophies and I'm sure at the end everyone will
be delighted. I analyzed the squad. Can they win trophies Yes. How many
trophies can they win We have five opportunities. I have more desire, more hunger to win trophies than before.'
Asked about what Liverpool fans might think Benitez said: 'I can guarantee a lot of them are saying “We wish you all the best – maybe not against Liverpool…” I don't have two owners who don't talk to each other (like at Liverpool). We have an owner and a technical director.'
The former Inter Milan boss, who also strongly hinted John Terry would stay on as captain, said he was not put off by talk he is simply keeping the hot-seat warm for Pep Guardiola.
'I have a very good relationship with Guardiola,' he added. 'He is a great manager, what will happen in future I don't know.
sure, I like to do things in the right way for the fans. But I'm sure
they will be happy with a manger with a winning mentality and who wants
to win games. In the end I hope they will be pleased.'
New man in the hotseat: Rafa Benitez arrives at training at Chelsea's Cobham training ground and told the fans to get behind him
Reunited: Fernando Torres arrives at training at Cobham ahead of his reunion with Benitez
Leader: Captain John Terry turns up for training
Another man in charge: Gary Cahill turns up for training with his third Chelsea manager in less than a year
Blues fans were still in shock this morning after owner Abramovich completed arguably his most controversial day yet at Stamford Bridge last night by appointing Benitez to succeed Roberto Di Matteo.
The Russian handed the former Liverpool boss a contract until the end of the season, having seemingly been unable to woo the man said to be his number one target.
Confirming new 'interim' boss Benitez would meet Chelsea's players today, the European champions said in a statement: '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 length of Benitez's contract appeared the clearest indication yet of Abramovich's determination to land Pep Guardiola once the former Barcelona boss completes his one-year sabbatical.
And it would be no exaggeration to say Benitez would be the least popular of his eight appointments judging by the reaction of Chelsea supporters on social media.
Making his point: A Chelsea fan stands outside the training ground with an anti-Benitez sign
No thanks: Chelsea fan protested when Rafa Benitez was linked in March
Indeed, they are unlikely to roll out the welcome mat for his first game in charge against Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday.
But all that failed to deter Benitez, who agreed his Chelsea contract during a trip to Abu Dhabi and will look to convince them or another big club to give him a longer-term deal.
It is impossible not to deduce part of Benitez's appeal to Abramovich was his relationship with 50million flop Fernando Torres, who he helped make one of the best strikers in the world at Liverpool.
Former Blue: Boudewijn Zenden will be one of Benitez's coaches
Di Matteo finally lost patience with Torres in his last match in charge but he expressed few regrets about his unparalleled eight-month tenure last night.
'It was an honour for me to be appointed manager of a club that I loved playing for and one that is so close to my heart,' he said in a statement issued by the League Managers Association.
'I am extremely proud of the successes and trophies that we were able to bring to the club in recent months.
End of the road: Roberto Di Matteo was sacked following Chelsea's defeat to Juventus
'Lifting Chelsea's first Champions League trophy, in Munich, was the best achievement in club history and without doubt the highlight of my career to date, both as a player and manager. It is a memory I will treasure for the rest of my life.
'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 unconditioned support in the intense time I have been the manager at the Bridge. I wish all of them every success for the rest of the season and beyond.'