Premier League - Paper Round: Chelsea players 'poke fun at Benitez '

Rafael Benitez again dominates the back pages of the newspapers as his funeral march as Chelsea boss drones on.

Premier League - Paper Round: Chelsea players 'poke fun at Benitez '

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Chelsea players train (Reuters) / Daily Mirror backpage 01/03/2013

The most interesting piece comes from the Daily Mail where Neil Ashton, who is known to have strong contacts within the club, lifts the lid on what went down during Chelsea's training on Thursday – the morning after Rafa's rant at Middlesbrough.

According to Ashton "Benitez acted as though nothing had happened" during a short training session with the players at Cobham.

"As the players waited in the changing room to go out for a short, sharp warm-down, they poked fun at Benitez while watching repeats of his meltdown on Sky News."

Ashton also listed a number of grievances the players currently have with their current bosses.

Technical director Michael Emenalo is "a man routinely referred to as Barry Manilow by the players" while "senior players have spoken to the manager and told him the training is not good enough for a club of Chelsea’s ambitions."

Ashton adds: "When Benitez told them their attitude and application was ‘the reason so many managers have been sacked’, one player responded by telling him the team won the Champions League last season."

Ashton also states that Fernando Torres is struggling with his confidence and has "become withdrawn again, isolated from the squad and largely conversing in Spanish with his friend Yossi Benayoun and countryman Juan Mata."

While Ashton also says the "only noticeable trend of late has been an increasing number of visits to the club doctor after the appointment of a pretty young nurse."

Most of the other papers talk about the reception that Benitez can expect from the Chelsea home fans when they face West Brom at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The backpage of the Mirror screams "Welcome to Hell" as they are left in no doubt about how nasty things might get, with their prediction that John Terry will be 'axed' from the team just adding fuel to the fire.

The paper says that Benitez will be "walking into a bearpit" with fans on Chelsea measure boards "threatening a firestorm."

The Times also predicts that many of the home fans will actually be cheering for the opposition.

Their deputy football correspondent Matt Hughes writes: "The Spaniard is bracing himself for a backlash at Stamford Bridge by angry fans, many of whom will adopt the unusual position of cheering the visiting head coach, Steve Clarke - a former captain and coach at the club - while jeering their own interim manager."

All eyes will certainly be on Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

To a few other brief rumours: Real Madrid will accelerate their efforts to lure Gareth Bale from Tottenham if Cristiano Ronaldo fails to sign a new contract at the Bernabeu this summer. The current La Liga champions see the Spurs winger as a direct replacement for Ronaldo, who is known to be considering a new challenge after three-and-half seasons in Spain. (Daily Mail)

Real Madrid outcast Kaka has set his sights on a move to America, according to his brother Digao. Kaka has expressed interest in moving to the MLS and younger brother Digao, a defender with the New York Red Bulls, has been taking steps to persuade him to join him. (Daily Mail)

And finally, Brendan Rodgers expects Luis Suarez still to be at Liverpool next season even if they fail to qualify for Europe, after receiving assurances from the forward’s agent that his client is happy at the club. (The Times)

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