Rafa fears taking more flak if Blues go through

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has issued another veiled attack on his critics on the eve of the Europa League clash with Steaua Bucharest, saying they would blame him for fixture congestion if Chelsea progress.

Last season’s Champions League winners bid to keep their European adventure alive by overturning a 1-0 deficit in their clash with the Romanian league leaders at Stamford Bridge.

Progress for the Blues, coupled with the FA Cup quarter-final replay with Manchester United on April 1, would result in a fixture headache, especially given the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final would be three days later.

Responding to questions on fixture congestion, Benitez implied some people would suggest it is his fault.

Benitez said: “I can do nothing about that. I just concentrate on my job and try to do my best, preparing the team for every competition.

“Maybe someone else will blame me. Some people always say that it’s my fault, that everything is my fault.”

Asked how he could be blamed for the calendar, Benitez said: “You are clever enough to realise that I was joking.

“If something is wrong they want to blame me. But I have to manage this too.”

The schedule of fixtures means Benitez will have to rotate his squad but he believes they are strong enough to cope.

“What I have to do is to pick the team for each game and be sure it’s a very competitive team for each competition,” he said.

Benitez hopes his side can carry momentum from their impressive second-half display in the 2-2 cup draw with United into tonight’s match and Sunday’s Barclays Premier League clash with West Ham.

“It’s important for us to show against a top side like United that we can do it,” he said.

“We did it before against other teams, but doing it at Old Trafford, against United, shows that we can do it and hopefully we can keep the momentum.”


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