Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I have been here in England for eight years and have heard a lot of things. The good thing is I don’t understand what people were singing. I was asking: ‘What are they saying?’ But I don’t care. I’m just focused on the game. I want to change the perception. How? By working hard, doing my best and winning games. I can understand it because of the rivalry in the past [with Benítez’s Liverpool side from 2004-10], and we cannot judge the supporters. We have to respect them. But I’m sure the majority of the fans will understand. I’m a professional. I will do my job and I want to win, and I want to win for this club. I hope they share those ideas. The fans, apart from that, are with the team. They will be with the team and, hopefully, with me in the next games because I will do a professional job and try to win.” – Rafa Benitez.
Runner-up: “I’ve been lucky. I’ve only managed 1,600 games and in 200 matches in the Champions League.” – Arsene Wenger.
Nobody Likes Benitez
Rafa the ‘interim’ knows his place in Roman’s Chelsea empire (Martin Samuel , Mail) At most other clubs, Rafa Benitez would be a caretaker. At Chelsea, he is an interim. Spend money at the rate of Roman Abramovich and that’s what you get: an interim. And interims are perfect because they have even less power than the usual Chelsea manager. A full-time employee would at least hope to have some input into policy, even if his wishes were largely ignored. An interim appointment has as much of a say in club matters as the work experience.
Boo are ya? (Sun) Fans booed as their interim boss was introduced before the 0-0 draw with Manchester City. But Benitez said: “If we start winning games they will come on board.” Blues supporters held up banners reading ‘Rafa Out Fact’ in reference to his infamous ‘fact’ rant when he was boss of Liverpool. When City fans taunted Benitez with chants of ‘You’re just a fat Spanish waiter’, some home supporters joined in.
Rafa revolt is sign of the times (Steven Howard, Sun) Well, , it could have been worse for the man Chelsea fans use to deride as the portly Spanish table attendant. At least Chelsea didn’t lose on his debut.
Show me respect, demands Benitez after Chelsea fans turn on new boss (Neil Ashton, Mail) Rafa Benitez told Chelsea boo-boys to show him more respect after a bitter fans’ protest… Supporters sang ‘f*** off, Benitez’ repeatedly and hundreds of Chelsea supporters held up ‘Robbie IN, Rafa OUT’ placards in a poisonous atmosphere at Stamford Bridge.
Fat Spanish waiter? The best tip for Benitez was to wear ear plugs (Mirror) As Rafa Benitez’s first sip from the poisoned chalice turned out to be pure arsenic, the atmosphere around Stamford Bridge was toxic and distracted. Seldom, if ever, has a new manager been welcomed to his post with such a noxious soundtrack as the concerto of derision which greeted Benitez yesterday.
Why Rafael Benítez may never be accepted by Chelsea fans (Dominic Fifield, Guardian) A few fans brandished “Rafa out” banners in the corner between the Matthew Harding and west stands, holding them aloft for the television cameras whenever a corner was conceded. Reinvention may be beyond him.
Rafael Benitez forced to face fury of frustrated Chelsea fans against Manchester City (Sam Wallace, Independent) To put it bluntly, the booing was more hostile than any planned protest. The spontaneity was what made it such a jolt to the system. What effect it had on the man himself and the team was difficult to gauge but it threw the home crowd into a fit of introspection. Up in his executive box, Roman Abramovich held that usual inscrutable expression of his. Did he care? Had he noticed? Would he care even if he had noticed?
Guardiola should run a mile if Abramovich comes knocking (Mark Lawrenson, Mirror) Pep Guardiola can have the pick of his jobs anywhere in the world. So, why on earth would he go to Chelsea?… What has happened in these past few weeks portrays a club lacking in any sort of class. Not even to offer an apology to Mark Clattenburg should shock us all. But this is Chelsea. So we expect nothing less.
Chelsea 0 – Man City 0
Haphazard Eden’s back in firing line as Belgian fades after stunning start (Neil Ashton, Mail) When the bitching began in the Chelsea dressing room during Roberto Di Matteo’s final days in charge, Eden Hazard became one of many targets. Yesterday the £32million man got his first warning, no longer one of the Untouchables after Chelsea’s interim manager Rafael Benitez replaced him with Victor Moses in the 71st minute.
Rafael Benítez takes cautious approach in first game at Chelsea helm (Michael Cox, Guardian) The more you assessed Chelsea, the more you noticed minor changes. In open play, there was increased discipline without the ball. Benítez is obsessed with his sides remaining compact from defence to attack, preventing the opposition from finding spaces between the lines. Therefore, it was notable how Torres dropped into deeper positions alongside Oscar, making Chelsea almost a 4-4-2 without the ball – similar to what Torres did with Steven Gerrard towards the end of Benítez’s time at Anfield. This made it difficult for City to play easily through midfield but hampered Torres’s ability to collect balls in the channels, and was a microcosm of Benítez’s overall gameplan – he disrupted City’s attacking at the expense of his own side’s creative potential.
Reunited with Rafa Benitez: Did Fernando Torres respond to his mentor? (Independent) If there was one man at Stamford Bridge who should have been thrilled to see Rafael Benitez arrive, it was Fernando Torres. He did not score yesterday but there was enough improvement to suggest he might well benefit from the management of his old mentor.
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez will not be able to inspire Fernando Torres to recreate his past glories (Alan Hansen, Telegraph) It has been claimed that one of the key factors in Rafael Benitez’s arrival at Chelsea is to recreate the Fernando Torres who excelled at Liverpool. Forget it.
West Ham Spew Anti-Semitic Chants At Spurs
Sickening! FA must act after West Ham fans mock Spurs supporters stabbed in Italy (Mail) West Ham United are facing an FA investigation after their fans subjected Tottenham supporters to vile chants at White Hart Lane on Sunday. Spurs’ 3-1 Barclays Premier League win was overshadowed by sickening songs about the stabbings of the Tottenham fans in Rome last week. Anti-Semitic taunts were also heard, along with persistent hissing and references to Adolf Hitler… The most distasteful chants were saved for towards the end. In reply to Spurs fans chanting, ‘Can we play you every week?’ West Ham fans sang: ‘Can we stab you every week?’
Hammers face rap over vile chants (Sun) Hammers’ supporters were heard singing: “Adolf Hitler, he’s coming for you”, and were heard hissing during the 3-1 defeat at Spurs, who have a large Jewish fanbase. They also taunted Spurs with Lazio songs in reference to stabbings last week ahead of the Europa League clash in Rome. Hammers boss Sam Allardyce said: “They shouldn’t be doing things like that but it’s the least of my worries at the moment. I’ll wait to hear it myself and make a comment after I’ve listened.”
Gunns are all the wage (Dan King, Sun) Arsenal’s board will face more questions when bitter rivals Spurs release their figures for last season. They are set to reveal Tottenham spent £1million less PER WEEK on wages than the Gunners. Arsenal have already confirmed a wage hike of 15 per cent to £143.4m in 2011-2. If reports are correct, that Spurs remained at their 2010-11 level of £91.1m — or below it — it would mean Arsenal spent £52m more to finish just a point ahead.
Norwich: Unsung Canaries
Let’s hear it for Hughton (Jamie Redknapp, Mail) Chris Hughton was assistant manager when I was at Spurs and I didn’t think he had what it took to be a No 1. But he has done a good job at Newcastle, Birmingham and now at Norwich, who are six games unbeaten. He’s not a foreign coach so he won’t get a big job, but he’s at a good club and stamping his own mark on it.
QPR: Welcome ‘Arry
QPR better by smiles with ‘Arry (Alan Shearer, Sun) There was some evidence at Old Trafford that there is something to work with and Harry is not called Houdini for nothing. He saved Portsmouth and resurrected Spurs. For me he puts a smile back on the face of a football club and it’s players… I think if Harry can get to January with hope restored then he can dive into that transfer market and really start changing things. It’s a big ask but Harry invariably has the answers.
Harry Redknapp must be patient with new boss, but who is in charge at QPR? (Independent) Redknapp is walking into a club that has done little to prove that its owners, directors and shareholders – the whole cavalcade of people who seem to be running QPR – have got a handle on what makes a club successful. The chairman, Tony Fernandes, is prolific on Twitter but was noticeably quiet in Mark Hughes’s last few days and absent at his sacking.
Berlusconi wants Guardiola for Milan but tips Man City to get him (Mirror) “Who would not want someone like Guardiola?” he asked. “We have spoken about it with Allegri. But there are English clubs who are after him. In particular City, who have directors who know him for a long time from Barcelona. We will be in there but it is going to be difficult.”
I don’t like exchanges! Berlusconi says Milan won’t swap Pato for City striker Balotelli (Mail) Mario Balotelli will not trade places at AC Milan with Alexandre Pato, according to club president Silvio Berlusconi.
Moyes plots keeper swoop after growing concerned over Howard’s form (Mail) Everton will step up their search for a new goalkeeper with David Moyes concerned that a lack of competition is harming Tim Howard’s form… With Howard’s deputy Jan Mucha out of contract at the end of the season, former Arsenal keeper Alex Manninger, ex-Celtic No.1 Artur Boruc, the Philadelphia Union’s Zac MacMath and Egyptian Adam Mansour are among those to be given a trial in recent weeks as Everton look to bring in someone who will push the 33-year-old American harder.
Shawcross on brink of record-breaking £14m contract to keep skipper at Stoke (Mail) Ryan Shawcross has given the first indication that he is ready to accept a record-breaking contract that would keep him at Stoke into his 30s. Stoke’s newly-capped England centre-back has been offered a new six-year deal that would give him parity with Peter Crouch as the club’s top earner on £45,000 a week. Worth £14million overall, it is the biggest package Stoke have ever put together, and Shawcross revealed his willingness to sign it, despite interest from Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham and his old club Manchester United.
Lambert outlines £22m Darren Bent’s future in Villa reserves (Mirror) Bent is now desperate to get away in January and Lambert has now made their fractured relationship even worse by insisting the £22m record signing can like it or lump it.