LONDON (AFP) – Chelsea announced Wednesday that Rafael Benitez had been appointed their interim first team-manager until the end of the season after the European champions sacked Roberto di Matteo.
Di Matteo was fired after Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat by Juventus in Turin left Chelsea facing elimination at the group stage of the Champions League.
But within a matter of hours Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s Russian billionaire owner who has now sacked seven managers since buying the club in 2003, appointed former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, albeit in a caretaker capacity.
“Chelsea Football Club can confirm Rafael Benitez has been appointed interim first-team manager until the end of the season,” said a club statement.
“The owner (Abramovich) and the board believe that in Benitez we have a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives.
The 52-year-old Spaniard is due to meet Chelsea’s players at the club’s training ground in Cobham, south of London, on Thursday.