Juan Mata says Chelsea players are behind Rafael Benitez

 

Juan Mata insists Chelsea's players are fully behind Rafael Benitez's mini-revolution.

Blues playmaker Mata denied Benitez's status as 'interim' manager until the end of the season had fatally compromised his authority, despite the former Liverpool boss experiencing a nightmarish start to life at Stamford Bridge.

Benitez has not won any of his first three matches in charge, failing to quell a massive supporter revolt against his appointment and sparking speculation his days could already be numbered.

But no unrest has seeped into the playing squad, according to fellow Spaniard Mata, who is desperate to improve on a run of just two wins from 11 games in tomorrow's Champions League clash with Nordsjaelland.

"We are trusting him because Rafa wants the best for the team," Mata said.

"If we want to win the Club World Cup, or the Premier League or the other competitions, we have to do better.

"Rafa is a very experienced manager and he's trying to help us. We're trying to help him."

Mata also insisted Chelsea's players had not been cowed by the jeers and abuse that have dogged Benitez's short reign.

"I'm not deaf, so we were aware," he said of the fan backlash.

"The supporters are free to do whatever they want. My job, our job, is to play well and to win. That's all I care about."

The 24-year-old added: "I always try to be focused on what I'm doing, nothing else.

"If we want to win, if we want to lift trophies this season, we have to be all together, fight as a unit in the team."

Mata also declared there was no point Chelsea's players bemoaning owner Roman Abramovich's hiring-and-firing policy, which sees the Spain midfielder serving under his third manager in nine months.

"The players have to be professional and work no matter who the manager is of the team," he said.

"We have an owner. We have people who are working, trying to do their best for this club and, as a player, I just have to work with the manager we have now.

"Now it's Rafa."

Mata admitted Chelsea "need a victory" under their new boss, starting tomorrow night.

In fact, they also require Shakhtar Donetsk to beat Juventus to avoid becoming the first Champions League holders to crash out of the competition before Christmas.

Mata denied an early exit would sully the memory of the club's astonishing European Cup final triumph that came only six-and-a-half months ago.

He said: "I think the memories of Munich are still present for us, and for the club, because they are so recent - just six months ago.

"I still believe we are going to get through because we can win and so can Shakhtar. I want to think in a positive way."

Mata admitted two wins from their five Group E games was not good enough.

"Obviously, we are in this moment arriving in a bad position in this game because we didn't do well enough," he said, struggling to rationalise a collapse by a side riding high at the top of the Barclays Premier League six-and-a-half weeks ago.

He also denied Chelsea lacked leaders in the absence of the injured John Terry and Frank Lampard but acknowledged they needed such "legends" back.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas