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Back to square one for Benitez as boo boys sing Blues at Bridge

POOR Rafa Benitez. Every time he tries to give himself a bit of a pat on the back, the walls close in again.

For a week or so, Benitez has been behaving like the Chelsea manager instead of the Chelsea interim manager but fate and his players refuse to co-operate.

Before last night's League Cup semi-final first-leg, Benitez was talking the talk and taking a few hits for his boss Roman Abramovich.

Out with the old and in with the new was the message and Benitez even sounded like he meant it.

But he's already sounding old himself at this stage and very few Chelsea fans want to hear the line he's peddling. They like their legends and won't let go easily.

Judging by the response from the Stamford Bridge stands when Danny Graham scored Swansea's second, Chelsea fans haven't changed their mind and want Benitez out the door long before Frank Lampard or Ashley Cole go.

Next week would do nicely or even tomorrow if it could be managed.

Benitez is a bit like a contestant in one of those eternally peculiar and impenetrable Japanese game shows which take the greatest pleasure in whacking people in soft parts of their anatomy with large padded mallets just when they close in on the finishing line



weak link

Last night, Branislav Ivanovic was Benitez's weak link, coughing up two goals for Swansea while Fernando Torres ran him a close second, only marginally more useful than a third nipple.

On came Demba Ba who made short work of the Swansea defence, doing everything in 10 minutes which Torres had failed to do in the previous 80.

Ba didn't score but had a goal ruled out for offside and put himself in a position to score another couple. A bit more accuracy with his head and Torres would have looked like an even bigger mug than he already is.

Torres had a couple of goal attempts, or what could very loosely be described as such. He touched the ball 19 times in 81 minutes and his second scoring attempt sailed high into the Shed End stand.

Ba is hungry, as hungry as Torres was when he first arrived at Anfield and, if he's given the chance, he will make the £50m Abramovich forked out for Torres look like one of the worst investments in the history of the Premier League.



mouth-watering

Swansea didn't have to try too hard to secure the lead they will take back to Wales for the second leg and with the mouth-watering prospect of a Wembley final against Bradford looming large, it would be foolish to bet against Michael Laudrup.

Chelsea weren't much better on home turf and after the game Benitez was up to his old tricks again. Cut any section from his comments, compare them with his last few seasons at Anfield and there's a common theme.

He reckoned that his players did well enough to win and nine times out of 10 in such circumstances, they would have done.

He said the same many, many times during his stewardship at Liverpool. He was wrong then and he's wrong now.