Benitez aware of Pep talk

Rafael Benitez is confident Pep Guardiola will tell him if he decides to take the Chelsea job at the end of the season.

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Rafael Benitez: New Chelsea manager

Rafael Benitez: New Chelsea manager

Rafael Benitez is confident Pep Guardiola will tell him if he decides to take the Chelsea job, but has admitted Roman Abramovich is unlikely to do the same.

Benitez insisted he had no problem keeping the manager's hotseat warm for his fellow Spaniard following his own appointment on an interim basis until the end of the season.

Former Barcelona boss Guardiola is on a one-year sabbatical from football and is said to be Chelsea owner Abramovich's number one managerial target.

Guardiola's agent claims his client, who has also been linked with Manchester United and Manchester City, will make no decision about his future until next year.

And if he elects to join Chelsea, Benitez expects to be among the first to know.

"I think so!" he joked.

He added: "I have good relations with Pep so any time I call him, I say, 'How are you doing?'

"I know he is enjoying life in New York, now, with his family."

And would Benitez's bosses at Chelsea also tell him if they were in talks with Guardiola?

"I don't think that they will let me know," he shrugged.

He added: "But I don't have any problem. I know the situation.

"I have come to create a competitive team and to win trophies.

"It might be that you can win three trophies, which would be difficult for anyone.

"The worst case scenario - if you win three trophies and then they would say, 'No, we give the job to another one' - I will be so pleased with three trophies."

Winning silverware barely scratches the surface of what is expected of a Chelsea manager by the most demanding owner in football, who reputedly wants to watch 'Barcelona in blue shirts'.

Benitez, who met Abramovich over dinner for the first time on Thursday night, said: "He's not desperate in terms of, 'We have to play Barcelona-style'.

"He wants to enjoy watching games.

"The way to enjoy is to see your team winning, and attacking and creating chances.

"The way that we create chances could be passing the ball or with a long ball."

He added: "If you score 10 goals and concede seven... I think he will be happy.

"I wouldn't be happy because I don't want to concede goals but I want to score a lot of goals. My job is to find this balance."

Benitez also questioned how realistic it was to replicate the Barca model overnight, adding: "You will not have this if you don't spend some time doing the same thing for years."

Something else Benitez will have to get used to is a lack of control over transfers.

Again, not a problem.

"I can tell you 200 players I wanted to sign in my career and we couldn't," he said, suggesting he would happy to be given a list of targets from which to choose.

"I'm not someone that has no experience and will say, 'Oh, I want to do this and do that', and it's not sensible. You have to be sensible."

He added: "Eden Hazard, we wanted for Liverpool. We couldn't sign him. In our list, maybe he was here [top] but we have to go for this one [lower down]."

Benitez now has Hazard to play alongside Fernando Torres, whose awful form Benitez admitted had been one of the topics of conversation with Abramovich.

Benitez said he would try to "push" as well as "put an arm around" the £50million man he previously made one of the best strikers around.

He added: "We are not stupid. We know he is a very important player."

As is captain John Terry.

"He is the kind of player you want pushing with you, because that is the key to be successful," Benitez said.

Terry's absence through suspension and injury arguably played a key part in Roberto Di Matteo's downfall as manager and Benitez will also spend his first fortnight in charge without his captain.

That includes Sunday's clash with Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City.

"It's a challenge, but you will be sure the motivation will be there," Benitez said of his first game, declaring his squad the equal of any.

"I think Chelsea is as strong as Manchester City or United."

He also insisted they were as hungry, despite finally ending their agonising wait for Champions League glory last season.

Benitez took over an Inter Milan team of thirtysomethings who were not so motivated.

"In Italy they say 'mangia piena' - eat and then you are full," he said, claiming his own two-year break from football had made him hungry for more.

"What I can guarantee is, when you come back, you are more focused, you have better vision and you have more commitment," he said.

"Sometimes, when you are working, you are working so hard that you don't see everything."

He added: "I had massive offers from Asia, the Middle East - massive money and it would have been easy to go there.

"But they were teams that are not as big as this club.

"It doesn't matter that it's for seven months, even three months."


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