London: Rafael Benitez has vowed to win over the Chelsea supporters who are so opposed to his arrival at Stamford Bridge that they booed his name before and during his first game in charge.
Sunday’s 0-0 draw at home to Premier League champions Manchester City left the Champions League holders in fourth place, a point behind West Bromwich Albion.
The Spaniard made an extraordinary claim that he had not heard the abuse that was directed at him in protest at his appointment to succeed Roberto Di Matteo, who was fired despite leading the club to Champions League glory in May.
The supporters also sang Di Matteo’s praises throughout.
“My experience in England is that when the fans are singing in the stands, I don’t understand what they say,” said the former Liverpool manager, whose comments about Chelsea during his time at Anfield are the root of the enmity.
“So I was just concentrating. I can understand because of the rivalry in the past.
“But I’m sure the majority of the fans will understand: I’m a professional, I do my job, I want to win, and I want to win for the club. I hope they share those ideas.
“The main thing is that the players are focused on the games. If they are, it’ll be fine. I have confidence we will do well and win games.
“Some of the fans will realise it’s not the way to support their team. They’ll know they have a professional manager in charge, someone who wants to win games.”
Television cameras were busy picking out banners in the home support calling for his sacking and insisting they would never accept Benitez, come what may.
However, the Spaniard suggested those fans were in the minority. “How many people do you need to write a banner?” he asked.
“Just one. Then two holding it. If we start winning games, they will come on board and they will see I’ll try to do my best. The manager wants to win every game and the fans the same. So we will win together.”
Chelsea will have to improve to achieve that objective, however, having landed just one shot on target all afternoon as City shaded an encounter that failed to live up to the hype.
Roberto Mancini, the City manager, has had a troublesome November himself as his team’s elimination from the Champions League has now been confirmed.
They also missed a chance to overtake Manchester United at the top of the table by dropping points at the Bridge.
His problems seemed tiny in comparison’s to Benitez’s, however, and the Italian was happy to offer his opinion on the subject.
“They are not my supporters, but I can understand it’s not easy for the new manager,” he said.
“But this is football. I think he’s a good manager and he will have time to show this, because he has experience and has won a lot of trophies.”
Mancini was not impressed by his own side’s efforts in the Chelsea half.
“I’m not satisfied with one point,” he said.
“To play here at Chelsea is always difficult, but to play as well as we did today (Sunday), we can’t lose two points. We were so poor in the last 20 metres. When we have a chance, we need to score.
“I liked everything from my team, but not the last 20 metres. We had chances to score but we missed the last pass. You have to be strong with that in the box. If you are soft, you won’t score. That’s why I was upset.”