...but fans say they’d prefer to have Grant

CLAIMS from Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez that only “a minority” of fans hold an agenda against him are wide of the mark, according to a leading supporters’ group, who have warned the Spaniard is in for a feisty reception at tomorrow’s home match with West Brom.

Benitez made a startling series of remarks following Chelsea’s midweek win over Middlesbrough, criticising the board and a section of supporters who continually vent their anger against him.

But Tim Rolls, interim chairman of the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, feels the 52-year-old has misjudged the situation and that the antipathy towards him is more widespread.

“He criticised the senior hierarchy and a minority of the supporters. I wouldn’t agree that it’s a minority,” Rolls told City A.M.

“The timing is so surprising. I don’t know what his motivation was or what he was hoping to achieve, but if it was to get the supporters on side it hasn’t worked.

“There will be chants and banners against Benitez before the game on Saturday. But we will be right behind the players. If the team is doing well during the game that might make things easier for him.”

Chelsea have picked up just 12 points from a possible 21 in home Premier League matches since Benitez controversially replaced Roberto Di Matteo in November.

And Rolls admits that even the return of unpopular former boss Avram Grant would be preferable to retaining Benitez.

“On balance I’d prefer it if he [Benitez] wasn’t our manager until the end of the season,” Rolls said. “I’d probably prefer Avram Grant to be our manager in the short-term, but it wouldn’t be ideal.”