According to Martin Lipton at the Mirror, Rafa Benitez has been an ultimatum. Beat Wigan this weekend or be sacked!
Roman Abramovich is said to be furious as Chelsea‘s post-Christmas tailspin. Saturday’s loss at Newcastle came on the back of poor draws at Swansea, Brentford and Reading.
Abramovich, who is not known for his patience, is said to be worried that there is a serious and growing prospect of Chelsea falling to finish in the top four for the second consecutive season.
Stamford Bridge is littered with managers who failed to meet the Chelsea owners expectations. Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked in February 2009 on the back of a home draw with Hull, Andre Villas-Boas was fired 11 months ago after defeat to West Brom, and then Roberto Di Matteo was axed after a run of two points from four games in November.
Compared to his predecessors, Benitez’s record is abysmal. Played 21 Won 10 Drawn 6 Lost 5. 47% winning record. Rafa has 1 win in his last 6 games and has won 3 games won in 2013.
Compounding the tension around Stamford Bridge is the fact that the race for the third and fourth Champions League spots is as open as I can remember. Tottenham’s win at West Brom yesterday brought Andre Villas-Boas’ side to within a point of Chelsea, while Everton are only four points back and Arsenal a point further back.
Benitez has not been helped by the small size of the Chelsea squad, with injuries, suspensions and the Africa Cup of Nations, Rafa had 14 senior outfield players available for the trip to Newcastle on Saturday and his request for more signings in January was turned down.
And Chelsea’s small squad will not be Benitez any favors this month as Chelsea will potentially play seven matches.
Most of the Chelsea first team squad is away on international duty until Wednesday, giving Benitez and his staff a couple of days to try and figure out how to get Chelsea back to winning ways or face the prospect of becoming Abramovich’s latest managerial casualty.