Rafael Benitez insisted he does not need another ‘miracle’ to rescue Chelsea from Champions League humiliation. Rafael Benitez remains confident Chelsea can continue their Champions League title defence beyond the group stages (Picture: AP) Benitez famously masterminded ‘The Miracle of Istanbul’ in 2005 when Liverpool produced one of the greatest comebacks in European Cup final history to beat AC Milan. Tomorrow night a place in the last 16 is at stake but in order to progress, reigning champions Chelsea need to beat Nordsjaelland and hope Shakhtar Donetsk produce the same result against visitors Juventus. And while interim manager Benitez acknowledged the Blues might need ‘a bit of luck’, the 52-year-old added: ‘I don’t think it’s a miracle. ‘We have to do our job and wait for the other teams.’ Benitez reiterated he had no fears of a Shakhtar stitch-up, despite a draw suiting both the Ukrainians and Juve. The Spaniard has failed to win any of his three matches since taking over, with his appointment sparking a huge supporter revolt. After defeat at West Ham, Benitez admitted that he was ‘not 100 per cent sure’ his job was secure. But yesterday he cut a more relaxed figure and insisted owner Roman Abramovich had assured him reports he was set to parachute in Avram Grant to assist him were incorrect. ‘All the information I have is he’s not coming,’ added Benitez. Tomorrow’s clash comes too soon for John Terry (knee), Frank Lampard (calf) and Daniel Sturridge (hamstring) but Benitez can call upon defender David Luiz, who returns from suspension.
Misfiring Chelsea striker Fernando Torres says he made the move to Stamford Bridge because former club Liverpool were no longer capable of winning trophies. Frustration: Fernando Torres has struggled for form at Chelsea (Picture: Reuters) Torres, who moved to Chelsea in January 2011, became the most expensive player in British football history after completing the £50million switch from Liverpool. The move came at a time when Torres was struggling for form at Anfield – something that has replicated after moving south, with the Spaniard managing just 11 goals in 61 league appearances for the Blues. However, despite his poor form and increased frustration from the club’s supporters, Torres is happy at Chelsea. Champion: Torres has won the Champions League at Chelsea (Picture: Getty) Indeed, while the 28-year-old’s time in west London has not been fruitful on a personal level, it has for the team as a whole, and Torres admits he only moved to Chelsea because former club Liverpool had lost their ability to challenge for trophies. ‘One of the main reasons to come to Chelsea was that they are always aiming for trophies,’ Torres told the Evening Standard. ‘I needed to win trophies because they are what you have after you have finished your career.’ ‘In my first full season we won the FA Cup and Champions League, what more can you ask? We have a chance now to win the FIFA Club World Cup.’ Torres has increasingly been linked with a transfer away from Chelsea, but is expected to remain at the club for the foreseeable future, given that owner Roman Abramovich is such a huge fan. Abramovich is said to have finally sacked Roberto Di Matteo over his refusal to field Torres, and the striker himself is firmly focused on the future. ‘I have four more years on my contract so hopefully I can win many more things — the Premier League would be amazing. The Capital One Cup and the Community Shield also.’
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew admits the club face a fight to fend off the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool for hot-shot Demba Ba when the transfer window re-opens. In demand: Newcastle striker Demba Ba is wanted by a host of other clubs (Picture: EMPICS) The Senegal striker was on target twice last night as Newcastle swept aside Wigan 3-0 at St James’ Park, but with morning reports claiming Arsenal are ready to trigger Ba’s £7.5million release clause, Pardew acknowledges the odds are against his side hanging on to their star player. ‘Demba’s been outstanding for us. But this city is one where information gets out,’ Pardew said. ‘We’ve had to board our training ground up because our team’s been leaked, and details of Demba’s contract have been leaked and that’s not acceptable.’ ‘He’s still got a clause in his contract. We’ve tried to negotiate it away but haven’t managed to yet.’ ‘But he’s never done anything other than look me in the eye and show me he wants to stay. He loves it here and understands it’s a football city.’ ‘We’re trying to do a deal to take the clause out because it makes it difficult for me, for Demba and the club.’ Liverpool are also thought to be keeping a close eye on the striker’s situation, and may consider challenging Arsenal’s for Ba’s signature.
Newcastle striker Demba Ba is moving closer to an exit from St James’ Park in January as talks over a new contract have stalled. Demba Ba could be set for a move from St James’ Park unless a new deal is agreed (Picture: Reuters/Action Images) The Senegal international has a £7.5million release clause in his current deal which could be activated by a club when the transfer window reopens in the new year, but Newcastle bosses are attempting to negotiate a new contract with Ba which would see the clause removed. But the former West Ham striker has yet to agree to the terms tabled, with his wage demands far exceeding what the Magpies are willing to offer and Liverpool are thought to be keeping a close eye on the situation. The delay means Newcastle boss Alan Pardew could face an anxious wait throughout January to see if the Reds trigger Ba’s release clause, having already admitted he will need to strengthen his squad during the transfer window. Ba has netted eight times this season, following his superb form last year which saw him hit the back of the net 16 times in the Premier League alone, although Newcastle are still languishing in 14th place.
Rafa Benitez has claimed the Chelsea side he has inherited from Roberto Di Matteo does not possess the character which was a byword at the club when Jose Mourinho was in charge. Call for character: Chelsea’s interim manager Rafa Benitez (Picture: REUTERS) Former Liverpool boss Benitez has undergone a torrid start to his reign at Stamford Bridge with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at West Ham following successive goalless draws on home soil. Benitez was livid his team did not dig deep enough to combat the energetic Hammers, folding under a second half onslaught from the East Enders, and he said: ‘Normally when you lose, you are not happy. ‘We did not manage their physical game, the long balls, the second balls, the corners. We gave them too many options to play their game and we could not be comfortable in possession. ‘That is when you have to show character and quality — and we did not do that. Character and leadership is always necessary in a team. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team had a lot of character but it is a different time now.’ Benitez hopes captain John Terry and Frank Lampard will return from injury and use their experience to lead a Blues revival over the hectic Christmas period. The Chelsea manager added: ‘Terry will train part of the session [today] so, hopefully, will be close, although with the knee you never know. Frank will train on Monday as well. Sunderland? We will see. ‘I will talk with them and then the doctor afterwards. Normally I wouldn’t play them if it was not necessary but a lot of players can play with problems. It depends on the risk but character and leadership are necessary in a team.’
Carlton Cole scored a headed equaliser for West Ham to make the score 1-1 after Juan Mata had given Chelsea a first half lead. Carlton Cole equalised for West Ham (Picture: Getty) Mata finished superbly after Victor Moses fed the ball through to Torres on the right and the striker then cut the ball back to him.The little Spaniard missed a great chance to double the lead for the Blues in the 40th minute after good work from Moses on the left. The former Wigan player turned on the ball fooling two West Ham defenders but the Spanish midfielder was unable to finish the cut-back. Peter Cech threatened to ruin a good first period for the visitors when he handled the ball outside the area on the stroke of half-time. The Blues stopper escaped with only a yellow card.He also managed to redeem himself after he saved a header, which had resulted from the free-kick he had given away. Juan Mata celebrates after scoring his Chelsea’s goal against West Ham (Picture: Reuters) Chelsea interim coach Rafa Benitez had dropped another of his creative players for the second game in a row after opting to start with Victor Moses alongside Juan Mata and Eden Hazard instead of Oscar at West Ham.Benitez was criticised after he left Mata out of the team that drew 0-0 with Fulham in midweek but he is unlikely to receive the same level of disapproval for dropping the Brazilian, who is seen as less influential.The Spanish manager is already under pressure following consecutive goalless draws at home against Manchester City and the Cottagers, but has decided to stick with an otherwise familiar line-up. John Obi Mikel returned in place of Oriel Romeu and Gary Cahill deputised for the suspended David Luiz in the two other changes to his team.West Ham were without on-loan striker Andy Carroll, with the Liverpool man facing a lengthy six- to eight-week spell on the sidelines through injury.In his absence, former Chelsea striker Carlton Cole lead the line for the Hammers. PICTURES: West Ham United v Chelsea
Liverpool have opened talks with Lyon over a deal for striker Bafetimbi Gomis, according to reports in France. Lyon striker Bafe Gomis is said to be in talks with Liverpool over a transfer (Picture: AP) Reds manager Brendan Rodgers is targeting at least one new striker when the transfer window opens in January, with Luis Suarez being the club’s only option up front at present. Athletic Bilbao hitman Fernando Llorente and Valencia poacher Roberto Soldado are just two of the players who have been linked with moves to Anfield, but both would blow huge holes in Rodgers’ modest budget. Instead, the club are said to have turned to Lyon powerhouse Gomis, who has a proven record as a goalscorer – bagging at least 10 in each of the last six seasons. The 27-year-old looks like he will add this season to that list too, having already scored nine times, leading to speculation of a move away. That talk has intensified in the last few days, with scouts from a number of clubs watching Gomis score a stunning hat-trick for Lyon in midweek. One of the watching sides was Liverpool, who have now made an approach to Lyon to try and negotiate a deal, according to French magazine Le 10 Sport. The publication claims Liverpool representatives have offered around £8million for the striker, who has 10 caps for France and has previously been linked with Real Madrid. Gomis is currently secured to Lyon until 2014.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has called on his players to ease the burden captain Steven Gerrard has been carrying for more than a decade. Brendan Rodgers wants his Liverpool team to help out Steven Gerrard more (Picture: Getty) Over the years, the 32-year-old has been the driving force in the Reds midfield, at times single-handedly winning important games for his team.He has scored just two goals this season and not been on top form but Rodgers believes it is time some of his team-mates stepped up. Rodgers wants more goals (Picture: Getty) ‘He’s carried this club for nearly 13 years and it’s about time that there was more than Steven picking up the baton of responsibility,’ he said.‘He’s been brilliant since I arrived. His inspiration and leadership has been phenomenal.’Rodgers admitted the midfielder hadn’t scored enough but said his performance in the 2-1 Premier League defeat to Tottenham in midweek showed how good he was. ‘He has been judged on his goals because he’s been a goalscoring midfielder over the years, but he’s still offering this group so much on and off the field,’ the former Swansea boss added.
Liverpool youngster Suso looks set to be investigated by the FA after calling team-mate Jose Enrique ‘gay’ on Twitter because he got his teeth whitened. In trouble? Suso (right) has hit the headlines for his ill-advised use of Twitter (Picture: Getty) The Spanish winger could be in trouble after posting a bizarre picture of team-mate Enrique having his teeth whitened, with the caption: ‘what f*** is he doing? This guy is gay… he does everything except play football.’The tweet was quickly deleted, but his apparently homophobic comment could land him in hot water with the FA and Liverpool chiefs, who have pledged their backing to several anti-discrimination campaigns in recent months. The Reds became the first Premier League club to sign up for Gay Pride, and are leading supporters of the Kick Homophobia Out Of Football campaign. This picture of Jose Enrique having his teeth whitened caused the controversy (Picture: Twitter) The FA are yet to announce whether they intend to charge the player.Suso is just the latest in a long line of Premier League footballers to cause controversy with their postings online, with Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole and Emmanuel Frimpong all charged in recent months for their comments.
Former Chelsea star Gus Poyet has attacked the club’s decision to appoint Rafa Benitez as manager by claiming it is ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘not good for the club’. Slammed: Gus Poyet says Chelsea have got it wrong hiring Rafa Benitez (Picture: Getty) The ex-Uruguay midfielder, who is now manager at Championship side Brighton, played for Chelsea between 1997 and 2001 and still enjoys a great relationship with the Blues fans. Poyet though, is concerned for the Stamford Bridge supporters after the interim appointment of Benitez as manager last week, suggesting it will have a detrimental effect on both the players and the club. ‘I don’t know what is going to happen. It is not good for the players or the club,’ Poyet said. ‘The fans don’t want him, that’s what they’ve been showing. And for Benitez, what happens during the time they don’t win?’ He added to Sky Sports: ‘I’m feeling very uncomfortable for everybody.’ Benitez has begun his reign as Chelsea boss with two successive 0-0 draws, with fans openly booing and holding up signs urging owner Roman Abramovich to sack the Spaniard as soon as possible. Uncomfortable: Chelsea fans have not warmed to Rafa Benitez (Picture: Reuters) It’s an uncomfortable situation, but one Benitez says he is hopeful he can turn around with some winning performances. ‘I will do my job and I want to win, and I want to win for this club,’ said the former Liverpool man. ‘I hope they share those ideas. The fans, apart from that, are with the team.’They will be with the team and, hopefully, with me in the next games because I will do a professional job and try to win.’ The comments come in a week when there has been increased speculation that Abramovich is ready to offer former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola a bumper package to become their new permanent boss in the summer. MORE: Top 10 contenders to become next Chelsea manager