Rafa Benitiez was involved in a training ground bust-up with Chelsea’s shell-shocked squad yesterday.
Less than 24 hours after they were beaten 2-0 by champions Manchester City, the Spaniard told his players that their attitude had cost a series of managers the sack, then lectured them on their failure to grasp tactics and a lack of effort.
But interim manager Benitez was stunned when one senior player suggested he might be at fault, given the club’s success in winning the European Cup last May.
‘We won the European Cup with this team,’ the player said.A furious Benitez also accused the squad of under-performing since he replaced Roberto Di Matteo in November.
Sportsmail understands skipper John Terry, who has been overlooked since recovering from injury, then made a passionate case on behalf of the players, even though he wasn’t even on the pitch at the Etihad Stadium.
Benitez is trying to prepare the players for tomorrow’s FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough, but he is now facing a battle to keep them onside.
Chelsea failed to win the Fifa Club World Cup in December and were then beaten over two legs in the Capital One Cupsemi-final by eventual winners Swansea.They are only two points clear of fifth-place Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League and face a tough trip to the Riverside for tomorrow’s fifth-round tie.
It’s understood that he began a pre-training discussion with the player by calling them into a huddle at their training centre in Cobham, Surrey.After picking up on a comment made by skipper Terry in the dressing room following their defeat at City, Benitez attempted to single him out.Terry defended himself and reminded Benitez that senior players have spoken to him about his managerial methods since he arrived after Chelsea’s shambolic defeat in the Champions League against Juventus.
A discussion that began with the best of intentions then descended into a heated discussion between the players and the interim coach.One player reminded Benitez that, in addition to the Champions League, this Chelsea squad also won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.
Last night sources at the club maintained that the exchange did not have an impact on the quality of the training session that followed.Benitez has held several discussions with Chelsea’s players about the training at the club since he replaced Di Matteo.He knows he will be replaced in the summer. Chelsea are already casting around for a replacement. – Daily Mail