West Brom curse hanging over beleaguered Benitez

The last two Chelsea managers have been fired after losses to
West Bromwich Albion, so Rafa Benitez may live to regret the timing
of his outburst at the club’s board and fans this week.

Andre Villas-Boas left after a 1-0 loss at the Hawthorns in
March last year, while a 2-1 defeat at the same stadium in November
proved to be Roberto di Matteo’s final English Premier League game
in charge of the European champions.

The trend could well continue if Benitez’s tirade on Wednesday
fails to generate a positive reaction from his team and Chelsea’s
disgruntled supporters in Saturday’s match against West Brom at
Stamford Bridge.

”There’s a big difference if you have everyone behind the team,
pushing and pushing,” Benitez said on Friday of his rant. ”That
was my idea. The message is clear. … What I wanted to do was the
best for the team, the best for the club.

”If we stick together, it will be easier and we can get more
points . I would like to see a fantastic atmosphere supporting the
team.”

Benitez said he had no regrets about speaking out so candidly
after the FA Cup win against Middlesbrough, a decision that
appeared to leave the Spaniard in a precarious position as his
comments included criticism of the board for making his job title
`interim.’

”I didn’t have any problem with the board. I didn’t have any
problem with Michael Emenalo (the technical director). I didn’t
have any problems with Roman Abramovich (the owner). I don’t have a
problem with the players,” Benitez said.

”I have been for 26 years training and coaching and always I
have had principles, respect and education.”

Despite his pleas, Benitez is still likely to face a hostile
reception from fans before and during Saturday’s match.

Chelsea will provisionally climb above Tottenham into third
place in the table with a win, as Spurs don’t play Arsenal until
Sunday.