Rafa Benitez appears to have bitten the hand that feeds him by saying that clubs who manage "with common sense" are of a bygone era. The interim Chelsea manager was speaking about Arsène Wenger and Arsenal's philosophy of living within their means, but the implication was clear that clubs with rich owners, such as Chelsea and Manchester City, have changed the landscape irrevocably – for better or worse.
Benitez, who could throw John Terry back into action against Arsenal tomorrow, is under contract until the end of the season at Chelsea, but his hopes of staying on longer have evaporated further after he made public his admiration for the way Arsenal conduct their business, in contrast to the "sugar-daddy model" adopted by City and Chelsea.
"Football has changed. We know since the arrival of people with big money, the Premier League has changed," Benitez said. "To manage a club with common sense used to be fine. To have a good manager like Wenger was fine, and you could achieve things. Now it's a different world with clubs with big money. You cannot compare the two.
"I have a good relationship with [Wenger]. He's one of the best managers, if not the best manager, in England for the last few years, given what he achieved and the way they do things, which is a very good way. He has won a lot, and the way they have won means they have confidence in him.
"He did well when he first arrived, the style of football was good, and the board and fans were happy. People talk about them not winning trophies recently, but he's a great manager. If it's difficult settling into England now, imagine what it must have been like 15 years ago."
Benitez, whose side let slip a 2-0 lead against Southampton on Wednesday night, having lost their two previous home games against Swansea and Queen's Park Rangers, says he could bring back Terry for his leadership qualities, even though the Chelsea captain is short of match fitness after his injury. "He is one of the strong characters and to have people with this mentality can help. Hopefully he will be fine and we will see a positive influence for the rest of the season in the team," Benitez said.
Chelsea were booed off the pitch after Wednesday night's draw but Benitez believes an upturn in results will be the catalyst to bringing the fans back onside. "To win will always help. We have to win together. If we win, I'm sure they'll be happy," he said.Reuse content