Football: Chelsea fans have said Rafa Benitez can expect a toxic reception at Stamford Bridge on Saturday following his criticism of them and the club’s hierarchy.
The Spaniard, who has been at loggerheads with Blues supporters since he replaced Roberto di Matteo last November, was forthright in his assessment of the club’s problems following Wednesday’s FA Cup victory at Middlesbrough.
The 52-year-old slammed his employers for undermining him by giving him the position of “interim” manager, while he also claimed that the supporters were “not helping” the team by booing him at every match.
Benitez will face the wrath of the Blues faithful when his team take on West Brom on Saturday afternoon.
A spokesman for a Chelsea fanzine said today that the manager will “get it in spades,” while former Blues defender Frank Sinclair concurred, saying: “I don’t fancy being him at the weekend.”
The former pro added: “All the fans will have taken it personally.”
A swift sacking would have come as no surprise given the nature of Benitez’s comments, but the club claimed today that it was “business as usual” at Stamford Bridge.
Benitez took training today as his players prepared for the Premier League encounter against Steve Clarke’s side.
A number of former players have called for the manager’s immediate removal, but, while his exit before the end of the season would hardly be a shock, Benitez appears set to manage Chelsea for one more game at least.
Chelsea fanzine CFCUK spokesman David Johnstone said he expects protests to increase at Saturday’s game.
He said: “If he is there for Saturday’s game and, if he thinks it was bad last night, he will get it in spades.
“He might have more than a banner, he might have his P45.”
Benitez confirmed after the Middlesbrough match that he will leave the club at the end of the current campaign. Whoever replaces him will become the 10th manager in 10 years under owner Roman Abramovich.