Benitez appointed Chelsea interim manager

LONDON Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:02am IST

Rafael Benitez reacts at a Champions League soccer match at the Weser stadium in the northern German town of Bremen December 7, 2010. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen/Files

Rafael Benitez reacts at a Champions League soccer match at the Weser stadium in the northern German town of Bremen December 7, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Morris Mac Matzen/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Rafael Benitez was appointed interim manager of European champions Chelsea until the end of the season on Wednesday, 10 hours after the club announced the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.

Spaniard Benitez, the former Valencia, Liverpool and Inter Milan coach, becomes the ninth manager under Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

He will be tasked with salvaging their season after a run of two wins from their last eight games left them off the pace in the Premier League and facing elimination at the group stage of the Champions League six months after winning the ultimate club trophy for the first time.

"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," Chelsea said in a statement.

The 52-year-old is due to meet the players at the club's training ground on Thursday, when there could be some interesting exchanges on the back of his lengthy and often fiery rivalry with Chelsea during his six years in charge of Liverpool.

During that time he won the 2005 Champions League, following the "miracle of Istanbul" when Liverpool came from 3-0 down to AC Milan at halftime to draw 3-3 and win on penalties.

They also reached the final in 2007, losing to Milan having beaten Chelsea in the semi-finals, and won the FA Cup in 2006.

At Valencia, Benitez won the Spanish league twice and the UEFA Cup but he has been without a club since being sacked by Inter in December 2010 after six months in the job.

Local media speculation on Wednesday was that Chelsea would appoint a temporary manager to fill the gap until former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola potentially becomes available following a one-year sabbatical from the game.

(Editing by Mark Meadows)

Sports Wrap

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Lakhvi's Bail

Lakhvi's Bail

Pakistan court bails man accused of masterminding Mumbai attack.  Full Article 

PM's Moves

PM's Moves

Modi moves in to speed up $300 billion stuck projects.  Full Article 

Space Programme

Space Programme

ISRO tests its heaviest space launch vehicle, eyes global market.  Full Article 

"PK" in Cinemas

"PK" in Cinemas

Secret of year's "biggest" Bollywood film is its plot.  Full Article 

Priya's Shakti

Priya's Shakti

Rape survivor turns "superhero" in India's first digital comic.  Full Article 

U.S.-Cuba Ties

U.S.-Cuba Ties

U.S., Cuba restore ties after 50 years.  Full Article 

Threat Works

Threat Works

Sony cancels N.Korea movie in apparent win for Pyongyang hackers.  Full Article 

Safety Concerns

Safety Concerns

Uber plans tighter screening for drivers.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage