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Benitez continues shaky start at Chelsea

Rafael Benitez still has plenty of work to do to win over the support, or even the tolerance, of Chelsea fans. His second match in charge at Stamford Bridge ended with a second successive 0-0 draw, against Fulham. Although the booing was reserved for the final whistle, it is apparent that the manager is facing a difficult task rediscovering the vibrant attacking football that Chelsea showed at the start of the season.

Part of the problems that resulted in the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo was a defensive sloppiness that had been particularly apparent in Champions League ties. Benitez seems to have applied a quick fix in that department, but owner Roman Abramovich won’t be happy if it comes at the expense of the side’s attacking verve.

"You cannot be satisfied when you haven't won these games," Benitez admitted. "Two clean sheets is something positive, but I still want to score goals and be more offensive."

Some Chelsea fans find his very presence offensive. History is the problem, with Benitez managing Liverpool at a time when the Anfield club denied Chelsea an appearance in two Champions League finals. It has not been easy for them to accept a bitter rival as the new boss. During the match against Fulham they chanted "We want our Chelsea back", interspersed with passionate chants of Di Matteo’s name.

With both Manchester United and Manchester City winning their Premier League matches, Chelsea slipped further behind in the title chase. Benitez didn’t attach too much significance to that. "No, remember last season when Manchester City were ahead and it was going to be easy," he said. "Then they needed to win their last game. It's a long, long competition. Why can't we win it?"

The team’s last two performances provide the obvious answer. The run-up to Christmas will be crucial for Chelsea, and for Benitez.

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