Football: Benitez wants end to Chelsea home sickness

Rafael Benitez insisted Friday criticism of him by Chelsea fans had nothing to do with the European champions' poor recent record at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have managed just two wins -- albeit high-scoring victories -- in seven home matches in all competitions under Benitez, repeatedly jeered by Chelsea supporters unhappy a man who had his run-ins with the Blues during his time as Liverpool manager replaced sacked fans' favourite Roberto di Matteo.

Chelsea's most recent attempt to gain some much needed home comfort ended in disappointing fashion as they squandered a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at home to lowly Southampton on Wednesday -- a result that all but ended the London club's hopes of winning the Premier League title this season.

Now interim Chelsea manager Benitez wants Stamford Bridge to regain the 'fortress' reputation it had when he was at Liverpool and Jose Mourinho was in charge of the Blues.

"It was always tough, always difficult when I went to Stamford Bridge (as Liverpool boss)," said Benitez, whose only home league victory so far at Chelsea was the 8-0 thrashing of Aston Villa on December 23.

"We will try to make it the same. It was (like that) for Aston Villa. After that everyone was scared."

Benitez insisted much of Chelsea's patchy home form was down to the defensive approach of away teams, a problem he did not foresee arising when London rivals Arsenal came to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

"The atmosphere doesn't affect the players. We are professionals and we concentrate on our job," Benitez said. "If we win, I'm sure they'll be happy.

"It's a question of the tactics of other teams, if they're deep or not.

"Arsenal are a top team. They won't be 11 men behind the ball on the edge of the box waiting. It's a different kind of game."

Rather than the Spaniard becoming the latest managerial casualty of billionaire Roman Abramovich's Stamford Bridge reign after Wednesday's match, it was his Southampton counterpart, Nigel Adkins, who was sacked on Friday despite a draw that took the south coast club three points clear of the relegation zone.

Adkins was replaced by Mauricio Pochettino, formerly the manager of Espanyol and a man Benitez knows well from his time in Spain.

Benitez, like many within English football, was taken aback by the timing of Adkins's sacking.

"I am really surprised because he was doing a great job," he said. "I'm very surprised. Pochettino has been in Spain for years, and did well at Espanyol. He's a good manager, but I'm disappointed that a manager has lost his job."

And Benitez warned Pochettino of the difficulties of adjusting to top-flight football in England.

"It's very difficult at the beginning," he added. "You need to know the structure, the referees, the other managers' tactics, your own players.

"In Spain you can be very good at tactics and manage teams your way. In England you have to adapt. It's a question of time.

"I don't like to see any manager, especially Nigel Adkins who was doing a great job, lose his job but I cannot talk about the decisions of the people in charge there (Southampton)."

  • Popular hot yoga myths debunked 12 minutes ago
    Popular hot yoga myths debunked

    What’s the hottest new workout taking the world by storm? That would be hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga. Conducted in a heated room with sweltering temperatures of about 40°C (or approximately 104° Fahrenheit) and 40 per cent humidity, … Continue reading →

  • Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report 58 minutes ago
    Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report

    Here are today’s top trending stories in case you missed them.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 12 hours ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.