- Premier League
Benitez pledges to win over fans with trophies
Rafael Benitez is confident he can bring trophies to Chelsea in the seven months he has in charge at the club - insisting that he will win over fans disillusioned by his appointment.
Benitez was named the Chelsea manager on an interim basis on Wednesday, signing a contract until the end of the season. Reports have swirled that Blues owner Roman Abramovich will target former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola in the summer, but Benitez insisted in his first press conference that he is simply focused on winning silverware before the end of the campaign.
"I don't care about the short term [thing]," Benitez said. "What I have in my head is to win every game. We have five trophies to play for and I hope to win from day one. In seven months I hope I can win some trophies and everyone will be delighted.
He added: "To be fair I have a very good relationship with Guardiola. I think he is a great manager. What will happen in the future you don't know. When you analyse why you go to a top side for seven months like this, it is because you can win trophies.
"For nearly two years I have been waiting for an opportunity like this, and now I want to try and take it."
Benitez's arrival has not proved popular in west London, with a series of comments he made about the club while manager at Liverpool still remembered by some supporters. The Spaniard insisted anything he said about the club during his time on Merseyside should be left in the past, before pledging to win over the Stamford Bridge crowd with results and performances.
"If I said this or that, then we have to analyse the context," he said. "We were playing Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League. I was just fighting for my club, fighting for my team, fighting for everything - so I do not see this as disrespecting Chelsea. I was just defending my team.
"A top side wants a top manager who can win trophies for them. We have something in common - nobody wants to win more than the fans and the manager. I am sure they will be happy with a manager who has this mentality, who wants to win games and will do everything he can do to so.
"For now they can have doubt, but at the end I think they will be pleased. I am almost sure."
Of Liverpool fans who might feel betrayed, he noted: "I can guarantee you a lot of Liverpool fans are wishing me all the best - although obviously not against Liverpool!"
Benitez acknowledged that his role will generally be limited to the training ground, with transfers left to a panel headed by club technical director Michael Emenalo. However, he denied suggestions that he will be forced to play certain players or produce a certain style of football.
"It is not a normal structure here - you have a technical director and a manager who is more a 'head coach'. If I need to talk about players I will talk with them. My priority will be the players we have at the moment, I will try to work with them and improve them.
"I was talking today to Michael Emenalo, he said, 'We are hiring you because we trust you, because we think you can do well - we have a good team and you can do well with these players'. I didn't hear anything from him about 'You have to do this is that'. Normally I do what I have to do for winning. Everyone can make mistakes."
Benitez, who was expecting to meet Abramovich later on Thursday, confirmed that Boudewijn Zenden will join his backroom team - along with Paco de Miguel, a fitness coach who worked with Fernando Torres at Atletico Madrid and Liverpool.
Benitez is confident he can help Torres rediscover his goalscoring touch, saying: "I spoke with him today and his attitude was good. All the players had a good attitude - I think I can help them improve."
On the day that it was announced that referee Mark Clattenburg would not face any charges after being accused of racially abusing a Chelsea player, Benitez refused to comment.
"This is my first day," he noted. "I haven't had much time to think about other things. I want to concentrate on football issues."