Rafael Benítez has no questions over Chelsea squad’s mentality
Rafael Benítez has been pleased with the Chelsea squad's professionalism since the Spaniard took over at Stamford Bridge
Rafael Benítez insists he has been happy with Chelsea’s response to his managerial approach since taking over from Roberto Di Matteo at Stamford Bridge.
The Spaniard has endured a turbulent start to his spell in west London, with two goalless draws followed up by Saturday’s defeat at West Ham United amid an angry reaction to his appointment from Chelsea fans.
But Benítez, speaking ahead of the Blues’ crunch Champions League clash against Nordsjaelland on Wednesday, says the squad have been professional in their work since he took charge.
“In football nowadays to change manager is something that you expect,” said the Chelsea interim boss. “I think the players know they have to perform as professionals. The training sessions are very good.
“They’re a good group of players, they are working hard. I don’t have any issue in terms of what they do, they are training really well.
“The players are ready mentally. They’re used to playing at the maximum level against top sides and playing for trophies. It’s just a question of a little bit of confidence.”
Benítez revealed that he had spent “a lot of time” with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich over the last week but has not spoken to him directly following the weekend’s defeat at Upton Park.
“I cannot talk with him every day because it’s not normal but I’ve spent a lot of time with him in the last 10 days,” he continued. “After the [West Ham] game, people close to him were talking with me.
“We all had the same impression: the first half was good but the second half is something that we have to consider and analyse.
“It’s my job. I know that we have to improve and I was analysing if I could do something more.”
The Spaniard added: “The positive thing in the first two games were the clean sheets.
“We conceded goals against West Ham but maybe it was the game we deserved to win more than the others because we were much better in the first half – we had a lot of chances and we could have scored two or three goals.”
Chelsea are on the brink 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