Chelsea appoint Rafael Benítez as manager until end of the season

Rafael Benítez is appointed as Chelsea's new manager until the end of the season after Roberto Di Matteo's dismissal

rafael benitez
Rafael Benítez left Liverpool in the summer of 2010 Photo: The Sport Review

rafael benitez

Rafael Benítez has been appointed as Chelsea’s interim manager until the end of the season, just hours after Roberto Di Matteo’s dismissal.

Di Matteo became the eighth managerial casualty of the Roman Abramovich era when he was sacked in the wake of the Blues’ 3-0 defeat by Juventus on Tuesday night.

Chelsea confirmed on Wednesday evening that Benítez had been placed in charge at Stamford Bridge, leaving the door open for Abramovich to make a summer approach for ex-Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

A Chelsea spokesman said: “Chelsea Football Club can confirm Rafael Benítez has been appointed interim first-team manager until the end of the season.

“The owner and the Board believe that in Benítez we have a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives.

“The 52-year-old Spaniard is due to meet the players at the training ground in Cobham tomorrow [Thursday].

“The two-time Uefa Manager of the Year comes with outstanding pedigree. He began his managerial career in his homeland, most notably at Valencia where he built a reputation as one of Europe’s top coaches by winning the Spanish League twice and the Uefa Cup.

“He then spent six years at Liverpool and led them to their fifth European Cup and an FA Cup.”

Rafael Benítez fact-file

• Benítez was a midfielder for Real Madrid’s reserve team and two other lower ranking sides before injury prompted an early move into coaching.

• He coached at youth and B-team level with Madrid, Benítez struck out on his own with Valladolid, Osasuna, Tenerife and Extremadura before getting his big break in 2001 at Valencia.

• He guided Valencia to the club’s first league title for 31 years in 2002 and added a second championship two years later, when they also won the Uefa Cup.

• The Spaniard joined Liverpool in June 2004, winning the Champions League in his first season, with his side beating AC Milan on penalties having come from 3-0 down in the final. Also the Reds won the 2006 FA Cup on penalties after trailing West Ham United 3-2 in stoppage time of the Cardiff showpiece.

• He took Liverpool to the top of the Premier League for two spells during 2008-09 but Manchester United retained their title.

• Benítez left Anfield after six years in summer 2010, stepping into Jose Mourinho’s shoes at Inter, before being dismissed in December 2012.

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