Rafael Benitez tells fans to get over Frank Lampard love affair

Chelsea manager insists club have to move on from 'legends' era and refresh their squad to stay at the top

Rafa Benitez told Chelsea fans today they must accept that the "legends" of Stamford Bridge have to be moved on as the club prepares to bid farewell to many of the players who have been a key part of their most successful period ever.

Feelings are running high at Stamford Bridge at the club's decision not to offer Frank Lampard a new contract when his current deal expires at the end of the season. Ashley Cole is also expected to leave as a free agent in July and no accommodation has yet been reached with John Terry, whose existing contract expires in the summer of next year.

As he prepared his team to face Swansea City in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg at home tomorrow night, Benitez said that supporters had to accept that if Chelsea were to maintain the success of the last nine years they had to change. Although the decision not to renew Lampard's and Cole's deals was taken by the board, it has been the interim manager who has been obliged to defend the club's position.

Benitez said: "I think it's always easy to talk about the legends, and you have to have a lot of respect for them. What they've achieved for this club has been fantastic. But you have to have new players - English or foreign, it doesn't matter - and carry on winning games. That's what the fans are expecting. Everyone knows the legends have been here and what they have achieved, but you have to see new players coming. It's part of life.

"The good thing about English football is that you have good memories and you respect people who achieve something for a club. That's very positive. But, at the same time, you have to think about the future. You cannot be waiting. You have to move forward, bring in new players and try to bring the best out of those you have. You have to use their experience, too."

Benitez acknowledged that the club could find themselves short of homegrown players. Under Uefa rules they are obliged to have four home-grown players from their own club and a further four home-grown by other English clubs. The sale of Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool this month means they have already lost one in the second category of the "4+4" rule, and stand to lose two more when Lampard and Cole leave.

Although home-grown players are not restricted by nationality, there is also the question of Chelsea losing their base of English players. Benitez said that he recognised the importance of a core of Englishmen and said that was the reason he had tried to sign Gareth Barry when he was Liverpool manager. He said: "It's not that the club is moving away [from English players]. I know the club is working really hard to bring the best players and, obviously, English players are an important part of any team in England. It's a situation we have to manage and the club is working hard to do that. But I have to use the best players I have, players under contract, and these players are doing well.

"In the Champions League, you need four home-grown players. Some of the decisions I had at Liverpool when I was criticised were because we needed English players [such as Barry]. Here it is the same situation. We are trying to find solutions. English players can play all the competitions, but these are managerial decisions and sometimes not easy for the fans to understand. But it's part of the work you have to do in the club. You have to get on with your work."

Benitez said that Terry, who has played just three games since the start of October, will have his first competitive run-out for Chelsea Under-21s against their Fulham counterparts tomorrow. He said goalkeeper Petr Cech was "very close" to a return.

 

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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones