Benitez plays down reports of Chelsea bust-up

Interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has dismissed claims of a row between himself and the Chelsea squad after the Blues’ Premier League defeat to Manchester City, the BBC has reported.

It was alleged that Benitez criticised the Chelsea players heavily after they lost 2-0 to the champions, which allowed Tottenham Hotspur to leapfrog Chelsea into third place in the table. Captain John Terry was said to have argued the players’ case in a heated exchange.

However, Benitez denied the incident was anything out of the ordinary. Speaking at a press conference ahead of Chelsea’s FA Cup match against Middlesbrough on Wednesday, the former Liverpool boss said: “This was a normal meeting between players and technical staff, which happens after every game. It was normal talk. You show your disappointment, that is normal.

Benitez added that he believes Terry is simply frustrated at not having featured often in the team of late, after suffering a knee injury in November. Benitez went on: “It was very brief exchange of ideas, and that is it, nothing else. It is just a team talk after a defeat. We had a meeting on the pitch with my players and technical staff, which is part of our business. Now we have to move on and start thinking about Middlesbrough.

The Spaniard also described his relationship with the Chelsea players as “fantastic”. Chelsea are currently fourth in the league table and, if they beat Middlesbrough, will be through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. A date with Manchester United at Old Trafford waits in the next round.

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