Chelsea FC have appointed Rafael Benítez as their interim manager until the end of the season following the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo.
Di Matteo left the club after Tuesday's 3-0 defeat at Juventus, a result that means Chelsea are in serious danger of becoming the first UEFA Champions League holders to fall at the group stage of the following season's competition. Di Matteo led Chelsea to that European crown with a final victory against FC Bayern München in May and also won the FA Cup during his eight-month reign at Stamford Bridge but has now paid the price after, as the club said in a statement: "Recent performances and results have not been good enough".
Chelsea have turned to Benítez, who guided Liverpool FC to the UEFA Champions League title in 2005, when his side overcame Chelsea in the semi-finals – a feat they repeated two years later. The 52-year-old Spaniard left Anfield for FC Internazionale Milano in summer 2010, but lasted only until that December at San Siro and has recently been working in the media.
"The owner and the board believe that in Benítez we have a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives," said a Chelsea statement to announce the appointment. Benítez, winner of UEFA's Coach of the Year award in 2004 and 2005, is described as having "outstanding pedigree" by his new employers having also landed two Liga titles and the 2003/04 UEFA Cup with Valencia CF.
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