Monday 20 November 2017

Benitez dismisses suggestions he could lose job if Chelsea fail to perform in Japan

Chelsea's interim manager Rafael Benitez attends at a news conference for Club World Cup soccer tournament in Yokohama. Photo: Reuters
Chelsea's interim manager Rafael Benitez attends at a news conference for Club World Cup soccer tournament in Yokohama. Photo: Reuters
Chelsea coach Rafael Benitez, center, gives directions to his players during a workout for the FIFA Club World Cup tournament in Yokohama. Photo: AP
Rafael Benitez arrives for training. Photo: AP

RAFAEL Benitez has brushed off fears that failure at the Club World Cup in Japan this week could cost him his job just after Chelsea also crashed out of the Champions League.

The Spaniard, who had been powerless to prevent the Blues' elimination, told a press conference: "With the economic crisis around the world, everybody is under pressure.

"I don't have a problem with pressure. The future is the next game and the one after that."

Chelsea arrived in Japan this morning for the tournament, with the Blues’ first game on Thursday.

Benitez was full of praise for cup, which he won with Inter Milan in 2010 after losing the 2005 final with Liverpool: "It's a massive competition.

"Everybody here has the same idea as me - to win every trophy."

He added: "It doesn't matter if we are in the Champions League or not.

"It's a great opportunity and we're here to win. We won our last two games and we're playing well."

Striker Fernando Torres scored four goals in those two matches, having been in awful form before Benitez's appointment.

"Fernando is in a good position now because the team is creating more chances and because the team is doing well," Benitez said. "I can communicate with him in a different way and work with him but the main thing is his team-mates playing well."

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Petr Cech insists the cup is not an unwanted distraction for Chelsea.

Chelsea take on Mexican side Monterrey in their semi-final in Yokohama on Thursday.

With two wins from their last two games, including Saturday's victory over Sunderland, Chelsea finally appear to be coming into form and, with the busy Christmas schedule just around the corner, the trip to Japan could be seen as coming at exactly the wrong time.

Cech, though, sees it differently.

"I'm very happy to be here," the 31-year-old said on the club's website. "It means a lot for any player if you can play in such a great tournament.

"You only get your invitation when you win the Champions League, which isn't easy. I had to wait eight years to get the entry with Chelsea, so I hope we will make the most of it.

"Our last two results were very good, so we will try to carry that momentum into this tournament and we hope it will take us through."

Along with Copa Libertadores winners Corinthians, Chelsea go straight into the tournament at the last-four stage, with the champions of Europe and South America always favourites to meet in the final.

Cech, though, is taking nothing for granted against Monterrey, who beat Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 in their quarter-final yesterday.

"We have to take it step by step," said Cech. "Monterrey have a slight advantage as they have been here and are acclimatised, they had a very good game yesterday, and will now face us on Thursday.

"We need to get as fit as possible as fast as possible, acclimatise and get used to the change in hours. I hope it's going to work and we are looking forward to the game.

"We were already seeded to play in the semi-finals, ourselves and Corinthians are seen as the favourites, but we can live with that fact, I have no problem with it.

"We've come to do our best and win the competition, we can assume the position as favourites and we will try to do our best on the pitch."

The tournament is notable for the use for the first time in football of goalline technology, something of which Cech heartily approves.

"I'm very happy with the decision and the trial," said Cech. "I've been saying for the last 10 years that the game needed it. You can see with history that results in certain competitions could have been different.

"As a player you would rather wait a bit longer to have a correct decision rather than be disappointed, so I'm glad it's come in and I hope everything goes smoothly and we will see the benefits of it."

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport