Belfast Telegraph

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez expects warm welcome at Stamford Bridge

Rafael Benitez (pictured), who led Chelsea to Europa League glory
Rafael Benitez (pictured), who led Chelsea to Europa League glory

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez will return to Chelsea confident he will receive a good reception after his brief cameo at Stamford Bridge.

Benitez was drafted in to replace manager Roberto di Matteo in November 2012 and although he was only in charge for a little more than six months, he delivered owner Roman Abramovich a third-placed Premier League finish and the Europa League title.

He was replaced by Jose Mourinho before the start of the following season, but believes he did a good job and that it was appreciated by the majority of the club's supporters.

The former Liverpool manager said: "I think the fans will be fine. The normal fans who you can find on the streets were okay with me.

"When you go to the game, the rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool changed things and the perceptions of some people. The majority of people realised I was doing a professional job.

"We finished third, like Abramovich wanted, to qualify straight for the Champions League. We did it and we won the Europa League in the meantime. I think the fans will be happy with that.

"It was really positive there. I have a lot of friends there, the staff was really good and the fans were fine.

"I tried to take the positives out of things and those are that they realised we did our job until the end and more and we achieved what they wanted, which is fine."

Benitez will head south for Saturday's clash with Chelsea having at least ended their four-game losing streak with a hard-fought 2-2 draw at West Brom on Tuesday evening.

The Magpies trailed 2-0 at the Hawthorns just after half-time, but belatedly summoned up the kind of spirit which characterised their promising start to the season to snatch a point.

Chelsea represent a very different proposition, but after seeing his team take the lead at Manchester United last month before succumbing 4-1, Benitez is hoping they can cause the Blues problems.

He said: "Chelsea are a top side and it is difficult to go there and win. But we went to Old Trafford with a lot of confidence and we have to go there and try to do the same.

"They will be there are the top of the table and hopefully we can go there and get some points."


From Belfast Telegraph