My Chelsea squad is too small, bemoans Rafael Benitez

New manager says playing staff needs to increase due to heavy schedule taking its toll

Rafael Benitez has told the Chelsea board that the club is relying on too small a squad of players, with the physical demands of the season taking its toll – and he has already been asked which potential signings he would like to pursue in January.

The club's new interim first-team manager met technical director Michael Emenalo and other members of the club's hierarchy on Thursday to give his assessment on the squad he inherited from Roberto Di Matteo 10 days ago. Benitez, whose side face West Ham at Upton Park in the lunchtime kick-off today, said that the club's resources were too stretched, with too few players being asked to play too many games. The club have used just 20 outfield players in their 22 games this season, and that figure includes Raul Meireles, who has since been sold to Fenerbahce.

"You analyse the players who have played every game, there aren't many players here," Benitez said. "They'd been playing fewer players. I'm not here to criticise, but that's the reality. They'd played so many games, two a week and massive games in the Champions League, the players were getting tired. You can't give them a rest, either, because there's no time."

From Benitez's first-team squad, eight key players have featured in 10 or more of the 13 league games this season, prompting him to make the decision to rest Juan Mata against Fulham – although the player was eventually used as a second-half substitute. Benitez said he may have to rest players today, although he said he could not afford to rest Fernando Torres because there was no alternative.

Benitez said he had "explained what I'd seen" to the board yesterday and laid out his strategy for the coming month, in which Chelsea have potentially 10 games, including the trip to Japan. "They were asking me my opinion on what we need [in the January transfer window], and I said it was too early. I was pleased they were asking, but I need a couple of games [to make a decision on signings]."

The club are already planning to buy a striker, with the key decision whether they go all out for Atletico Madrid's Falcao, who has a €60m (£48.5m) buy- out clause, or take a cheaper option. Benitez said that the club were reluctant at the moment to call Romelu Lukaku back from his loan at West Bromwich Albion because of its benefit to his development.

Asked whether Torres, who has started every game he has been eligible for save Di Matteo's last match in charge, against Juventus, could be rested, Benitez said "not at the moment".

"[Daniel] Sturridge is injured. [Victor] Moses is the only option we'd have, but he's a different kind of player. Six training sessions, two games [so far and] I can't adjust too many things. I'm trying to keep the same team more or less and adjust little things. If we have to manage players like Fernando, we'll do it. But it'll be the same as Mata and the others. If I have another player who can play in his position, I'll do it."

Benitez also disclosed that when he was Liverpool manager the club had the option to buy Andy Carroll, whom they subsequently signed for £35m, and who is now on loan at West Ham. At the time, Newcastle decided against selling him. "He played in the FA Youth Cup at Anfield and we were watching him, a young player with power. It was an option, he was cheaper. £35m? Take the 'three' off. Quite cheap."

Benitez said that despite the hostility from supporters he was working "from 8am to 8pm" to try to turn the club's fortunes around. "The other day [against Fulham] it was a little bit better in terms of the fans being more with the team," he said. "When I was at Extremadura, Tenerife, Valencia and Liverpool I replaced a manager who was very successful and in the end they loved me."

He said that John Terry had made himself available for selection but that he still had reservations about the captain's fitness and wanted to hold him back. Terry and Frank Lampard may yet travel to Japan next month for the Fifa Club World Cup not having played since sustaining their injuries.

The Chelsea chairman, Bruce Buck, did not address supporters at the club's annual lunch at Stamford Bridge yesterday to raise money for the Chelsea Foundation and the Past Players' Trust. The club's hierarchy are yet to give their take on Di Matteo's sacking and Benitez's appointment.

Benitez: My designer club suit is too small!

Rafael Benitez admitted he did not yet have one of the club-issue Dolce & Gabbana suits because he found the tailoring too snug for his figure.

The Chelsea manager was responding to suggestions that fans were unhappy he had worn what looked like a red tie – it was orange – for the game against Fulham on Wednesday.

Benitez said: "I paid attention to these little things. My first tie [in his press conference last week] was blue. Still I have some problems with the official suit. The Italian style is different. It's really nice, but it's for young people, not old people. Everyone is different. The Italian style is more for players."

"They [the tailors] need some time. Now, because of the crisis, no one has many suits in stock. They have to make the right one. The colours are the colours."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world