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Javier G. Matallanas | 21/11/2012
Rafa Benitez is the new Chelsea manager. He replaces Roberto di Matteo, the coach who made the London club champions of Europe. Benitez closed a deal with Abramovich to tie him to Chelsea on Wednesday evening.
"I'm looking for a team that fights for titles and obviously Chelsea are one of those" said Benitez to Sky Sports.
Di Matteo made history with Chelsea last season by leading them to their first ever Champions League triumph, but a disastrous Champions League campaign and a poor run in recent weeks in the Premier League brought his brief reign to a close.
Earlier on, Chelsea released the following statement on their official website:
"Chelsea Football Club has parted company this morning with Manager Roberto Di Matteo. The team's recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season.
The English tabloids first predicted that Josep Guardiola would take over from Di Matteo, but that was denied. Rafael Benitez was the second on the list. The man from Madrid, who was without a team and had made his desire to return to the touchline clear on many occasions, has always shown his reluctance to be a transition coach.
Another coach bites the dust
Roberto Di Matteo is the eight coach to have left Chelsea since Roman Abramovich bought the club in summer 2003. Claudio Ranieri, the incumbent coach before the Russian billionaire became owner, lasted just one year at the helm, and was replaced by José Mourinho in summer 2004. The Portuguese is the club's longest serving coach under Abramovich, coaching Chelsea for just over three years, before quitting in September 2007. His replacement, the then little-known Israeli coach Avram Grant, lead the club to their first ever Champions League final but was sacked after they lost the final in Moscow to Manchester United on penalties. Grant was followed by Felipe Scolari and then Guus Hiddink, before Carlo Ancelloti managed the club for two years between 2009 and 2011, winning the FA Cup and the Premier League in his first year but then being fired a year later after winning nothing.
Ancelloti's replacement was André Villas-Boas, who was fired last February, and replaced by his assistant coach Di Matteo.