Rafael Benitez confident he can appease unhappy Chelsea fans as he appoints Boudewijn Zenden

Chelsea will still go ahead with their plans to sign another forward in January

Rafael Benitez, who is not expected to get a warm reception for his first game in charge of Chelsea, is confident he can win over infuriated fans after being named as Roberto Di Matteo’s replacement as manager.

The 52-year-old is taking over with the team low on confidence after winning just two of their last eight matches, losing top spot in the Premier League and on the verge of Champions League elimination in the group stage.

But Benitez feels he can turn things around and believes he will quickly earn the backing of supporters in the process.

When asked about the fierce opposition to his arrival, he said today: “You know the fans they always want the same as the manager — to win games, so we will try to do the same.

“I think it is a top side and we want to challenge for trophies. My biggest challenge? At this moment we think about one game at a time so [I’m just] trying to win the next game.”

Benitez, who has been put in charge for the rest of the season and met the players for the first time today, has never been forgiven by many Blues fans for his disparaging comments about the club when he was in charge of ­Liverpool. In 2007, he even said he would never manage Chelsea, out of respect for the Anfield side.

But he has already made his first move to appease them by appointing former Blues winger Boudewijn Zenden as his assistant.

Although the club insist the coaching staff who worked under Di Matteo, in particular Eddie Newton and Steve Holland, remains the same for now, Benitez has brought in Zenden, who he signed for Liverpool in 2005.

Importantly, the former Dutch international played for Chelsea between 2001 and 2004 and already knows the influential duo, captain John Terry and Frank Lampard. Zenden is keen to get into coaching having retired from playing last year and has also been given a contract until the end of the season.

The 36-year-old has maintained a close relationship with Chelsea and has made guest appearances on the club’s TV station in recent months analysing the team’s performances.

He was at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago to see them beat Shakhtar Donetsk and spoke of his belief that Torres could still return to his best.

The Spaniard became one of the world’s top strikers while playing for Benitez at Liverpool and scored 81 goals in 142 games for the Reds but has only managed 19 in 87 matches since his £50million move to Chelsea last year.

Although the club hope Benitez’s arrival will spark Torres, they are going ahead with plans to sign another forward in January.

The former Valenica coach will only get a limited say in targets and Chelsea’s first-choice remains Atletico Madrid star Radamel Falcao, who has a £44m buy-out clause in his contract.

The Spanish club are expected to cash in to solve their financial difficulties, although they are keen to hold on to him until the summer.

The Evening Standard is reporting that Napoli’s Edinson Cavani remains the second choice and that his representatives visited London in recent weeks. The club are also monitoring Porto star James  Rodriguez, who can play in a variety of attacking roles.

There is also a possibility that Didier Drogba, who scored 155 goals in eight years for Chelsea, could return for a short spell on loan.

The Ivory Coast striker joined ­Shanghai Shenhua in the summer on a free transfer but the Chinese season has finished and he wants to remain in good shape to play for the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

He has asked for special dispensation from FIFA to make the move because it is outside the transfer window and was, significantly, at Stamford Bridge to watch their 1-1 draw against Liverpool earlier this month.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment