Benitez tries to mend fences with Chelsea fans
Rafael Benitez tried to end his war with Chelsea's fans after the Blues interim manager ended a turbulent week by leading his side to a 1-0 victory at home to West Bromwich Albion.
Since arriving at Stamford Bridge, Benitez has been barracked by a section of the home support, who have never forgiven him for comments made about the club when he was in charge of Liverpool.
Benitez finally showed his frustration at the situation after the midweek FA Cup win at Middlesbrough when he launched a scathing attack on the fans and the club's hierarchy.
Inevitably, he was subjected to some abuse from the stands during their win over Albion, which was settled by a 28th minute goal from Senegal strike Demba Ba.
But the Spaniard insisted he was happy the supporters had given his players enough enthusiastic backing to ensure the expected poisonous atmosphere failed to materialise. "The atmosphere was good," he said. "I was really pleased with the fans getting behind the team and the players played with more confidence. It was very positive."
Had the fans' disaffection with Benitez hampered the players in previous games therefore? Benitez would not commit to say so.
"I don't know, but I could see the players playing with more confidence and the fans behind the team," he said. "I will not talk too much about that but it was very good, very positive. They were behind the team. We were playing very good football."
The win boosted Benitez's chances of avoiding becoming the latest victim of Blues owner Roman Abramovich.
"We created opportunities to score more and kill the game off, but we still defended well and it's a good win," Benitez said. "We've still got 10 games to play, a long race, and we're in a good position. We still feel we can do well.
"I was really pleased with the performance on the pitch. I have a contract until the end of the season, that's the end of it."
Chelsea captain John Terry spent the afternoon sitting directly behind Benitez on the bench and the Spaniard, who was rumoured to have argued with his defender in midweek, confirmed the former England international was fully fit. "We have seven players on the bench, that's the rule, and John Terry was one of the players," he said.