Interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez defended his team selection against Fulham yesterday evening after a conservative line-up only managed to muster a second consecutive goalless draw since the Spaniard took over last week.
There were little indications of an entertaining new brand of football at Stamford Bridge when the Blues played defending champions Manchester City on Sunday and last night’s scoreless affair against the Cottagers led to more jeers from the team’s supporters.
While many sections of the club’s faithful have still not completely come to terms with the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo – the man who guided them to their first ever Champions League triumph merely six months ago – the pressure is already on for the new man in charge in West London.
Benitez left the creative spark of his countryman Juan Mata on the bench upon Fulham’s visit and although he gave summer signing Marko Marin a much-awaited debut late in the evening, he replaced the dangerous Eden Hazard instead of replacing any of the defensive midfielders (Oriol Romeu or Ramires).
He didn’t even give an opportunity to Victor Moses, who scored the match-winning goal in the club’s only victory in November against Shakhtar Donetsk.
In explaining his decision-making, the Spaniard emphasized that Chelsea’s participation in five different competitions has been the key to resting some players.
“We have too many games now so the idea is to manage the squad and use the players we have. You can’t play the same team every time because if you do we have West Ham in two days, and then Japan [FIFA World Club Cup]. We have to try and manage the squad,” Benitez defiantly told the Blues’ official website.
The former Liverpool and Inter Milan boss added: “When you play five competitions, it’s really important to give the message that everyone will be important at the end, we have five competitions and they will have chances.”
Although Benitez echoed the sentiments of disappointed supporters that are craving goals and wins, he feels that a pair of successive clean sheets offer a strong foundation to build on.
“Two clean sheets is something positive but still I want to score goals and be more offensive. We have some confidence because we don’t concede and if we can build from there I will be happy,” Rafa concluded.