Premier League - Vialli offers backing to Benitez

Former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli has thrown his support behind Rafael Benitez.

PA Sport
Premier League - Vialli offers backing to Benitez
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A week on from an outburst at Middlesbrough, where he criticised a number of fans for obsessing over their campaign to drive him out of Stamford Bridge and also expressed his frustration over being named an `interim' manager, Benitez remains in a job.

There had been speculation Chelsea would dismiss the man who is only contracted to the end of the season, however the club stressed in the aftermath of Benitez's words that it was business as usual at Stamford Bridge.

Saturday's home win over West Brom bought Benitez some breathing space, and tomorrow his team face Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League.

Vialli could understand why Benitez wanted to bring the situation to a head, and he hopes that by urging the Blues supporters to put their grievances with him to one side and focus on backing the team, there can be a positive outcome for Chelsea this season.

Vialli, manager at Chelsea for two and a half years until he was dismissed in the early weeks of the 2000-01 season, said: "I think Rafael Benitez has finally realised it would be impossible to change the chairman's mind about giving him another season. I think he's also realised that there's no doubt the fans are not going to support him.

"I think he's done the right thing which is to ask the fans to forget about not liking the manager but to keep supporting the side and the players because the players need support. There's no doubt they're suffering a little bit from this situation."

Vialli told Sky Sports News the club could do worse than consider another Italian boss, after his spell in charge and those of Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo.

"I hope it's going to be an Italian," Vialli said. We've had four Italian managers at Chelsea in the past 12 years and I think the majority of them have been pretty successful. Hopefully it would be me."

That would appear most unlikely, with Vialli having been out of the game since being dismissed by Watford in 2002. Asked whether he would go back to Chelsea, Vialli said with a smile: "Absolutely."

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