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.