When news happens, text CHRON and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email & phone.
Benitez in blame game joke
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has issued another veiled attack on his critics on the eve of the Europa League last-16 second leg with Steaua Bucharest.
The Blues will on Thursday bid to keep their European adventure alive by over-turning a 1-0 deficit at Stamford Bridge. Progress, coupled with the FA Cup quarter-final replay with Manchester United on Easter Monday, April 1, would result in a fixture headache especially given the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final would be three days later.
Responding to questions on fixture congestion, Benitez implied some people would suggest it is his fault. Benitez said: "I can do nothing about that. I just concentrate on my job and try to do my best, preparing the team for every competition. Maybe someone else will blame me. Some people always say that it's my fault, that everything is my fault."
Asked how he could be blamed for the calendar, Benitez said: "You are clever enough to realise that I was joking. If something is wrong they want to blame me. But I have to manage this too."
He did not make clear who "they" are, but, due to his prior association with Liverpool, Benitez has never been popular at Stamford Bridge, where he has been regularly booed.
Following the FA Cup fifth-round win at Middlesbrough, the Spaniard railed against his critics, telling the supporters to use their energies to back the team, rather than barrack him, as his contract ends in May.
The schedule of fixtures means Benitez will have to rotate his squad.
Asked about the challenges of selection with games every four, three, or possibly, every two days, Benitez suggested he expects further reprisals.
"You have to analyse every single thing and you will decide what to do and still someone will criticise you," he said. "If you lose a game, it's 'oh, he picked the wrong player' or whatever.
"It's quite difficult, but each team is different and it depends on the players that you have, the positions and the congestion."