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Rafa Benitez exclusive: One blogger started this Chelsea hate campaign and I'm powerless to stop it

Notorious quote that Spaniard would "never" manage Blues "out of respect for my former club at Liverpool" was made up by a Czech teenager
29/03/2013Mirror.co.uk

For Rafa Benitez, his biggest foe was not Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho.

Not John Terry, Frank Lampard or anybody else in the Chelsea dressing room. Not even the Blues fans who want him out.

No. Benitez enters his final two months at Stamford Bridge, the weeks that will make or break his legacy, knowing his foe is faceless, nameless, irrelevent – yet toxic.

A teenage blogger in the Czech Republic, who made up the quote that undermined him from Day One, the claim that, six years ago, he had said he would “never take the Chelsea job, “out of respect for my former club at Liverpool.

Benitez, confident of the abilities his managerial CV illustrates, can cope with the sniping, the enemies that exist in the real world. The ones in the cyber world, though, have helped make the difficult job of replacing the popular Roberto Di Matteo almost impossible.

Indeed, no matter whether Benitez engineers the top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League table – and ­hopefully some silverware – he demands of himself, the Spaniard accepts the well was poisoned.

Benitez said: "I try to have the vision of the big picture. If I’m here, it’s because I was successful. I have won all the trophies you can win at club level, in different countries and different teams. I know my ability and skill.
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"But you cannot change things now, in this society, especially with Twitter and Facebook – they go so fast.

"In the past, you could have three people who were not happy about your team selections or your ­substitutions, or whatever, and nobody would notice.

"Now you can have one person in the Czech Republic, making up a quote and saying ‘Rafa said this’, and then it’s repeated over and again. It becomes ‘the truth’, even though it’s not true – and it WAS NOT true.

"The trouble is you cannot change the perception now of people who are on another continent and read on Twitter the opinion of someone else, who has a blog and wants to write something not true. ­It’s ­impossible.

"All I could do was concentrate on the things I do well, the things that have made me successful. I have done that."

Many Chelsea fans will not agree, although it does seem clear that ­Benitez’s decision, after the win at Middlesbrough, to inform his terrace foes that they were making things harder for the club, had an impact.

The abuse has not gone away, but it has reduced.

"I have received a lot of messages and emails here at the club, he said. "Fans said, ‘You are doing a good job, carry on. We understand the situation. Don’t be worried because we are Chelsea fans and can see what you are trying to do.’

"I think we are doing a great job. Why? Because you can see the team has more balance, has a lot of young players who are learning and progressing in a ­transitional period.

"We’re pleased with the evolution of the team but you want to win and finish in the top four to confirm all these things."

And, of course, to answer some of the knockers inside the game.

The words "Sir Alex Ferguson" and "Jose Mourinho" did not leave Benitez’s lips.

They did not have to.

"If you are in the middle of the table, you are not a problem for anyone, he said. "If you are competing for being first, it is normal to have rivalry.

"I have to be careful what I say. But when you are speaking about one or two names, it is because you are competing for the same trophies, so that’s a problem.

"Some people think that if you win, then you must be right. And if you don’t win, you are not right. That’s not the case. Sometimes you have a team that can win, ­sometimes you can’t.

"I think that’s been the reality in England. When you compete for trophies, the managers who are competing do their job the way they want to do it. ­Sometimes you have to fight back. Other times you ­concentrate on your team."

Benitez knows he is set to become part of Chelsea "history" and believes it was harder for him to impose himself "when you come for six or seven months than when you arrive with a ­three-year contract". But he accepts that was the situation he ­inherited.

And the one he will bequeath?

"I would hope, ‘He was ­professional, worked hard, had integrity, brought education and respect’," he added.

"If we can add a good position in the Premier League and two trophies, it will be much better. You have to win, and then you confirm these things."

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