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Thursday 22 November 2012

Chelsea name Rafael Benitez as interim manager

Former Liverpool manager takes over from Roberto Di Matteo until the end of the season

At Chelsea Rafael Benitez will be reunited with Fernando Torres

Chelsea have announced Rafael Benitez as their new interim manager after parting company with Roberto Di Matteo in the wake of the club's UEFA Champions League defeat by Juventus on Tuesday night.

In a statement on their website, Chelsea said: "Chelsea Football Club can confirm Rafael Benitez has been appointed interim first-team manager until the end of the season.

"The owner and the Board believe that in Benitez 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."

"In Benitez we have a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can immediately help deliver our objectives"
Chelsea statement

Benitez first came to prominence at Valencia, where he won the Spanish League twice as well as the UEFA Cup. He moved to Liverpool in 2004 and during his six years at Anfield led them to their fifth European Cup and an FA Cup.

Di Matteo left Chelsea on Wednesday morning despite leading them to Champions League and FA Cup glory in May. Chelsea had started the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League campaign well, winning seven of their opening eight matches but the club's form has dipped over recent weeks.

They have won one of their last eight matches in all competitions while on Saturday, they suffered a 2-1 League defeat at high-flying West Bromwich Albion. Tuesday night's 3-0 defeat by Juventus leaves the club's qualification for the Champions League knockout stages hanging by a thread.

A Chelsea statement announcing Di Matteo's departure read: "The team's recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season.

"It is a memory I will treasure for the rest of my life"
Roberto Di Matteo

"The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions. Our aim is to remain as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.

"The owner and the Board would like to thank Roberto for all he has done for the club since taking over in March. Roberto helped guide us to an historic Champions League victory and a seventh FA Cup. We will never forget the huge contribution he has made to this club's history and he will always be welcome at Stamford Bridge."

In a statement issued through the League Managers Association, Di Matteo talked of his pride at his tenure at Chelsea.

"I am extremely proud of the successes and trophies that we were able to bring to the club in recent months," Di Matteo said. "Lifting Chelsea's first Champions League trophy, in Munich, was the best achievement in club history and without doubt the highlight of my career to date, both as a player and manager. It is a memory I will treasure for the rest of my life."

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Key Points

  • Chelsea appoint Rafael Benitez as interim manager
  • Former Liverpool manager succeeds Roberto Di Matteo
  • Spaniard is appointed until the end of the season