Rafael Benitez was introduced as Chelsea manager on Thursday, and I was doing my best to approach it with an open mind. Yes, I have preconceptions about the man, but if he can do a job for us and then go away, I can treat it as a necessary evil. I'm not a proper journalist, so my transcription skills are appalling, but here are my notes, with the new manager paraphrased in bold italics wherever appropriate.
- He seemed very comfortable with the idea that he was only going to be around for seven months. Works for me.
- Di Matteo was doing a great job. There is literally no reason for Rafa Benitez to be here if Roberto di Matteo was doing a great job.
- On the Milan question. I disagree. My time at Inter was very successful. We won two trophies. And here I was thinking that presiding over the collapse of the defending European Champions and getting fired midseason was pretty unsuccessful. This is where I start getting angry.
- Defended his comments regarding Chelsea fans as a means of building up his team, claims that fans like to see that sort of thing. I have to vehemently disagree -- even when Jose Mourinho pulled stunts like that it made me unhappy, and Benitez is no Mourinho. Other supporters are just people who happen to like a different football team.
- The fans are very clever. They will say we have to support the manager because it's best for the club. Hard for me not to respond to that with expletives. Guess I'm just not very clever.
- He hasn't met Roman Abramovich yet, but believes working under him will be easier than working with Tom Hicks and George Gillette at Liverpool.
- Michael Emenalo was mentioned a lot. And by a lot I mean every other answer.
- Fernando Torres is still a top player. Cunningly avoided mentioning which sport or video game he was referring to.
- Why do they keep asking him about Mark Clattenburg?
There's other stuff, but it's mostly rather boring. Sadly, there were no questions whatsoever about tactics, nor were there intelligent questions about personnel. We'll have to wait and see what happens on the pitch for that. All in all, it was a thoroughly uninspiring press conference -- Benitez was evasive and did nothing to endear himself to the fans. But his real job is to deliver results on the field, and for that we'll have to wait and see.