21/11/2012 14:38 GMT | Updated 21/11/2012 15:56 GMT

Rafael Benítez Named New Chelsea Manager

Rafael Benítez has been confirmed as Chelsea's new interim manager after Roberto di Matteo was sacked on Wednesday morning.

The Spaniard has signed a short-term deal having rejected Blues owner Roman Abramovich's offer to take caretaker charge of the club in March after André Villas-Boas was dismissed.

Chelsea hailed Benítez as a coach "with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives".

Benítez, who said Chelsea fans "lack passion" as Liverpool boss in 2007, has flown into London from Abu Dhabi this evening and will take charge of first-team training at the club's Cobham training ground on Thursday. He is the ninth Chelsea manager in nine years of Abramovich's reign.

The 52-year-old has been out of work since December 2010 when he was fired following a disappointing six months with European champions Internazionale.

But he has ended his managerial exile at a club where, like Inter, José Mourinho's shadow still looms with Chelsea on the brink of Champions League elimination after Tuesday night's 3-0 defeat to Juventus.


Benítez at Stamford Bridge in 2009

The Blues must beat Nordsjælland and hope Shakhtar Donetsk defeat Juventus in a fortnight's time otherwise they will become the first defending European champions to go out at the first round of entry since Steaua Bucharest in 1986-87.

Benítez's arrival at Stamford Bridge is not a popular one amongst the majority of Chelsea supporters though. The Spaniard's arrival at Liverpool in 2004 coincided with José Mourinho joining Chelsea, and the two clubs experienced an intense rivalry with the two Iberian coaches at the helm, mainly due to two Champions League semi-final clashes.

Some Chelsea fans unveiled a banner at their FA Cup fifth-round replay with Birmingham City imploring the club not to employ Benítez in what was Di Matteo's first match in charge.


Benítez's last foray into the Champions League with Liverpool ended in the Merseysiders going out at the group stage in 2009. Liverpool have not played in the competition since then.