Juan Mata: Chelsea players are all behind Rafael Benítez

Juan Mata insists that Chelsea's squad are all behind interim boss Rafael Benítez despite poor start to his reign in west London

juan mata
Juan Mata signed for Chelsea from Valencia last August Photo: The Sport Review

juan mata

Juan Mata insists he and his Chelsea team-mates are all behind Rafael Benítez despite a dismal start to the interim manager’s Stamford Bridge reign.

Benítez, who took over from Roberto Di Matteo last month, is still searching for his first victory in west London, with the Blues having stuttered to two goalless draws before Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at West Ham United.

Chelsea fans have made their discontent at Di Matteo’s dismissal and Benítez’s appointment clear but Mata says the former Liverpool boss has the players’ backing.

“Yes, we trust him because Rafa wants the best for the team,” said Mata. “If we want to win trophies we have to be together.

“Now we have Rafa, he’s a very experienced manager. He’s trying to help us and we’re trying to help him.

“I think the players have to be professional and work, whatever manager is in the team.

“When you change manager it’s when things aren’t going good so it’s not good news, ever. As a player I just try to work no matter who the manager is.

“We are all with Rafa. To win things we have to be together as a unit.”

Benítez was met with a hostile reception from Blues fans in both of his home games at Stamford Bridge.

Mata believes supporters have the right to express their opinions and insists the atmosphere was not a distraction.

He continued: “I am not deaf, so yes [I heard the jeers]. We were aware [of it] but I think it’s not my responsibility.

“The supporters are free to do whatever they want. Our job is to play well and to win and that’s all I care about.

“We know that we need to win. After three games we haven’t won so we need a victory.”

Mata, speaking ahead of Chelsea’s crunch Champions League clash with Nordsjaelland on Wednesday, added: “We have an owner, we have people who are working trying to do their best for this club and as a player I just have to work with the manager that we have now.

“We play for a big club and we have to perform like the club deserves. The supporters are with us in good and bad moments.

“We always try to play our best to show to the supporters that we are a good team.”

Chelsea are on the verge of becoming the first holders to have their Champions League title defence ended in the group stage.

The west Londoners must beat Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge to retain a chance of progressing from Group E, although even that would not be enough if second-placed Juventus avoid defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Chelsea v Nordsjaelland: Pre-match facts

• Chelsea won all three home group games in 2011-12, scoring ten goals without conceding, and recorded three more home victories in the knockout stages as they claimed the trophy for the first time.

• The Blues are eight games unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League, winning seven since their 1-0 defeat by Manchester United in the quarter-finals on 6 April 2011.

• Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanović and David Luiz have played every minute of Chelsea’s group stage campaign.

• Chelsea conceded twice in the last four minutes on Saturday as they lost 3-1 at West Ham, leaving the Blues seven games without a league win – their worst run since a 10-match sequence at the start of 1995

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