Benitez won't apologise over spat

Rafa Benitez has received a frosty reception at Chelsea. Photo: PA

Rafael Benitez has refused to bow to pressure to apologise for his controversial comments about Chelsea as he prepared to run the gauntlet with their fans again.

Blues supporters yesterday called for their new manager to say sorry for what they perceive as criticism of them while he was in charge at Liverpool.

Benitez endured a savage reception upon his introduction as Chelsea boss in Sunday's Barclays Premier League draw against Manchester City and fan groups have suggested there will be no let up in their west London derby with Fulham.

The chair of Chelsea Supporters' Group said an apology would help win over some fans but, as during his unveiling on Thursday, Benitez questioned the accuracy of some of the quotes attributed to him.

"The problem is we can analyse what I said and didn't say," he said.

"We can't be checking if it's true or not. I'll try my best to win their trust. That's it."

One comment that is beyond dispute is Benitez's praise of the passion of Liverpool fans, which included a sideways dig at that of Chelsea supporters.

The quote has been immortalised at the Reds' Melwood training ground and pressed on whether he would apologise for it, he said: "I was praising the fans of my club, my team.

"But I'm here now, it's my club, and I will do my best for them.

"That's my explanation, very easy and very simple.

"I will try to defend my club, and this is now my club."

Benitez admitted he did not know whether tomorrow would see a repeat of the vicious booing, chanting and placards that were directed at him on Sunday.

"To be fair, I don't know," he said.

"But I can say that, since coming here, I've worked really hard, coming in at 8.30am and leaving at 8.30 at night, doing my job, talking to players and staff and trying to be ready for the game."

Such abuse cannot be nice but Benitez added: "I can't worry if I'm upset or not.

"If it was a player, I'd be telling him to concentrate on his job. The best way to change things is to win games."

Benitez insisted he appreciated why his appointment had been greeted so negatively by many supporters.

"I understand the feelings of the fans because of my time at Liverpool, where we had rivalry and it was quite difficult," he said.

"But, at the same time, I will try to prove I'm here for the right reasons.

"We want to win, and we can do that together.

"I'll try to improve players and it'll be easier to win games and bring the fans back."

He added: "It's not a situation we can change in one minute.

"But working hard, winning games, I can improve it. Starting with Fulham."