LONDON (AFP) – Interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez once again refused Tuesday to apologise for comments made about the London club’s fans while he was in charge of Liverpool.
Benitez was given a frosty reception by supporters upon his introduction as Chelsea boss during Sunday’s draw with Premier League champions Manchester City, fans unhappiness at the sacking of Champions League-winning manager Roberto di Matteo compounded by the appointment of the Spaniard as his successor.
And a large section of Chelsea support wants Benitez to say “sorry” for comments, taken to be a dig at the Blues.
Some of those words have have been immortalised on the walls of Liverpool’s Melwood training ground.
“We do not need to give away flags for our fans to wave — our supporters are always there with their hearts and that is all we need.
“It’s the passion of the fans that helps to win matches — not flags.”
But Benitez, speaking Tuesday ahead of the west London derby with Fulham, insisted he would not be raking over the past and what mattered now was results, with Chelsea currently five points behind league leaders Manchester united.
“The problem is we can analyse what I said and didn’t say,” he said.
“We can’t be checking if it’s true or not. I’ll try my best to win their trust. That’s it.”
As for the comments now inscribed at Melwood, Benitez simply said: “I was praising the fans of my club, my team.
“But I’m here now, it’s my club, and I will do my best for them.
“That’s my explanation, very easy and very simple.
“I will try to defend my club, and this is now my club.”
As for the prospect of receiving more verbal taunts from Chelsea fans, Benitez said: “To be fair, I don’t know.
“But I can say that, since coming here, I’ve worked really hard, coming in at 8.30am and leaving at 8.30 at night, doing my job, talking to players and staff and trying to be ready for the game.”
He added: “I can’t worry if I’m upset or not.
“If it was a player, I’d be telling him to concentrate on his job. The best way to change things is to win games.
“I understand the feelings of the fans because of my time at Liverpool, where we had rivalry and it was quite difficult.
“But, at the same time, I will try to prove I’m here for the right reasons.
“We want to win, and we can do that together.
“I’ll try to improve players and it’ll be easier to win games and bring the fans back.
“It’s not a situation we can change in one minute. But working hard, winning games, I can improve it. Starting with Fulham.”