• Premier League

Benitez ready to step in to rescue Chelsea

Harry Harris, ESPNsoccernet
March 1, 2012
Rafael Benitez would be willing to take over at Chelsea © Getty Images

Rafa Benitez will agree to take over the Chelsea job if he is offered it as an immediate replacement for under-fire Andre Villas-Boas, according to ESPNsoccernet sources.

Villas-Boas is facing a crucial few days at Stamford Bridge as his future has been the subject of much speculation and the former Liverpool boss is apparently seen as the coach to reignite the goalscoring flames of £50 million flop striker Fernando Torres, but also to glue together a dressing room that appears to be falling further apart by the day.

The Portuguese's condemnation of Torres in a recent interview - he talked about the Spaniard in the same terms as flops Andriy Shevchenko and Mateja Kezman - has hurt the hierarchy at the club all the way up to Roman Abramovich.

"We have been through the Torres situation before with Shevchenko and Kezman," Villas-Boas told Portuguese radio station TSF this week. "We continue to work on his motivation, his specific movements on the field and his trust. There is only one atmosphere which will make him regain his trust, and that is a competitive atmosphere."

Those comments have been the catalyst, according to ESPNsoccernet sources, for Abramovich to seriously look at replacing Villas-Boas, on top of the revolt of some senior players such as Frank Lampard and the disharmony created within the West London club.

Abramovich (said to be deliberating deeply about what to do next) might have to decide, perhaps as early as the next 48 hours, whether he needs a coach of vast experience to rescue the season, just as Guus Hiddink did when Phil Scolari was sacked midway through his first season in charge of Chelsea.

Following the crushing 3-1 defeat to Napoli, the Chelsea owner faces the daunting prospect of failing to make the top four and missing out on the Champions League next season, an option that he would find unacceptable.

Back in 2004, it was known that Claudio Ranieri was going to be replaced by Jose Mourinho before a vital Champions League tie in Monaco, and history might be repeating itself as a decision over Benitez might even be taken before next week's must-win return leg.

Benitez has not worked since leaving Inter Milan after a six-month spell at the end of 2010 and his agent has openly suggested the Spaniard's desire to return to work in England, where options are limited at the highest level.

Manuel Garcia Quilon has recently said Chelsea had not been in touch, but he hinted that Benitez would be most definitely interested.

Benitez led Liverpool to Champions League and FA Cup glory and Valencia to two La Liga titles, and the feeling is that he would have more chance of turning around the Napoli deficit in the Champions League and galvanising the team to finish fourth than AVB as the Abramovich camp agonise over what to do next, possibly even before the weekend.

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