CHELSEA 0 vs MANCHESTER CITY 0
CHELSEA’S Rafael Benitez insisted last night that the fans who gave him a hellish reception will come to see the error of their ways, after the new manager failed to end the Blues’ month-long wait for a Premier League win.
A torrent of verbal abuse was aimed by the home crowd as Benitez was presented prior to his side’s solid yet unspectacular goalless draw against champions Manchester City.
“Because I have confidence that we will do well and we will win games, I think that some of the fans – they will realise that it’s not the way to support your team,” Benitez said.
“They will see, listen – ‘we have a professional, he is our manager now’. They can be happy or not, but if I keep working hard, doing my job properly and winning, I am sure that they will be there.”
A chorus of boos welcomed Benitez to his new job, drowning out the stadium announcer’s attempts to quieten the crowd. Supporters in the Matthew Harding Stand chanted “Rafa Benitez, you’re not welcome here”.
Owner Roman Abramovich’s decision to dismiss Roberto Di Matteo last week and replace him with Benitez – who endured a fierce rivalry with Chelsea when he was manager of Liverpool from 2004 to 2010 – has been met with intense disapproval at Stamford Bridge.
Yet Benitez revealed that Abramovich is keeping a close eye on the man that he has appointed interim first-team manager. The new boss discussed the draw with Abramovich soon after the final whistle, he said. “He knows it was a tough game, he knows it is a difficult time because of the last games, he knows my opinion [on the game],” Benitez said.
The tie started slowly with the first attempt at goal not coming until the 19th minute, when City’s James Milner hit a tame shot wide. Two minutes later the visitors again attacked down their right wing, yet Pablo Zabaleta’s cross was headed over by the diminutive David Silva.
With City showing most attacking intent, Chelsea’s first shot did not come until seven minutes before the break, when David Luiz hit a free-kick straight at goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Benitez’s team were more spritely in the second half, with the best chance falling on the hour mark to Fernando Torres. Neat work from Juan Mata and Eden Hazard set up the Spaniard, but he blazed narrowly over from 12 yards.
City could have nicked it in the 91st minute, yet Matija Nastasic’s header was saved by Petr Cech to earn a point.