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Benitez is new Chelsea boss

Rafael Benitez. Photo credit: Neal Simpson/EMPICS Rafael Benitez. Photo credit: Neal Simpson/EMPICS

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
7:34 PM

Chelsea have moved quickly to install former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez as their new manager, less than 24 hours after sacking Roberto Di Matteo.

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The Spaniard was the bookmakers’ favourite to become the Blues’ ninth manager in nine years and will take control as interim manager until the end of the season.

Yet the length of Benitez’s contract appears the clearest indication yet of Abramovich’s determination to land former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola once he completes his one-year sabbatical.

Tonight’s announcement was also the culmination of a breathless 24-hour period that was extraordinary even by Chelsea’s standards.

What began last night with Di Matteo finally axing Fernando Torres against Juventus, ended this evening with the arrival of the man who made the £50million flop one of the best strikers in the world but became a man largely disliked among his new club’s supporters.

In between all that, Di Matteo joined the ever-increasing list of men to be ruthlessly sacked by Abramovich, who is now on his ninth manager in a little over eight years.

In a statement, Chelsea said: ‘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.

‘The two-time UEFA Manager of the Year comes with outstanding pedigree. He began his managerial career in his homeland, most notably at Valencia where he built a reputation as one of Europe’s top coaches by winning the Spanish League twice and the UEFA Cup.

‘He then spent six years at Liverpool and led them to their fifth European Cup and an FA Cup.’

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