Roman Abramovich could face a fan backlash tonight if he makes Rafael Benitez his ninth manager at Chelsea.
Abramovich has reportedly turned to former Liverpool boss Benitez having sacked Roberto Di Matteo following the European champions’ crushing defeat at Juventus yesterday evening.
Di Matteo could hardly have been more popular among Chelsea fans, having earnt legendary status a both a player and manager, while Benitez became a hate figure at Stamford Bridge during his six years at Anfield in which he twice denied them a place in the Champions League final and had more than one run-in with Jose Mourinho.
Social media seemed to suggest there was little support among Chelsea fans for Benitez’s appointment when it was mooted this morning, as had been the case when he was linked with the job earlier this year.
Chair of Chelsea Supporters Group, Trizia Fiorellino, told BBC Sport: “Benitez will just not be accepted by Chelsea supporters.
“I don’t think Benitez is a good manager, he’s been out of work for two years now. If he was any good, why hasn’t any other club snapped him up?”
David Johnstone, a spokesman for fanzine cfcuk, added: “Rafa Benitez is not a Chelsea manager.
“Some people are born to play for or manage certain clubs and, for us, Benitez isn’t what we want.
“When he was Liverpool manager and Jose Mourinho was Chelsea boss, there was a bit of ’beef’ between them.
“He was very dismissive of Chelsea, very rude towards us and my impression of him was, whenever anything went wrong, it was always somebody else’s fault – not his.”
Fiorellino was equally critical of the decision to sack Di Matteo.
“I just think it’s a mad decision at a mad time,” she said.
“I personally didn’t agree with Roberto Di Matteo becoming manager. But they gave him the job so they should have given him at least a year. We are bedding in new players, a new style of play. You can’t just take the job away from him.”
Johnston added: “I’m not shocked. We know what the board of directors are like, they’ve done it before and they’ll probably do it again.
“I’m very disappointed for Robbie Di Matteo and Eddie Newton. We think they deserve to be treated in a far better fashion.
“When he was only given a year’s contract people had half an idea that he wouldn’t last.”
However, both stopped short of criticising billionaire benefactor Abramovich.
Fiorellino said: “I trust Roman because he’s a winner. But I’m not sure his advisors always have the best interests of the club at heart.
“We can’t build a dynasty as such, it’s just piecemeal. We want longevity.
“If you’re given the choice between two big clubs and one of them is Chelsea, who have the propensity to sack managers at the drop of a hat, which one are you going to choose?
“We’ve appointed a stopgap manager too often. It would leave us in limbo.”
Johnstone said: “Chelsea wouldn’t be in the position they are in without Mr Abramovich, he’s been fantastic for us.
“But the board of directors who work for him have to stand up for themselves, they have to stand up for the supporters and give him some better advice. We’re used to it at Chelsea now.”