Premier League - Paper Round: Rafa rewrites the headlines

Rafael Benitez was set for an easy enough time this morning reading the newspapers after Chelsea's victory over Middlesbrough until he decided to pop.

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Premier League - Paper Round: Rafa rewrites the headlines
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Daily Telegraph 28/02/2013

The early editions were all about a comfortable 2-0 win for the Blues at the Riverside and looking ahead to what the back of the Daily Star described as "Rafa v Fergie" in the quarter-final of the cup.

Now it is looking increasingly unlikely that Benitez will be in charge for that last eight tie at Manchester United after his furious rant at the behaviour of the Chelsea fans completely rewrote the headlines.

The Times say "Furious Benitez on the brink after rant" and suggested that the former Liverpool's "fraught relationship with the club’s board and supporters reached meltdown," in the North East.

They go on to say: "The Chelsea hierarchy are likely to consider their response today, with a strong chance that the Spaniard could have left the club before the Premier League match at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday."

The Sun meanwhile said that the outburst had shown that the Spaniard had "finally snapped" and led with his declaration that he will leave the club in the summer with the simple headline: "Rafa: I'm off".

As you can see from the above picture the Telegraph changed the front of their sports section from "Blues Brothers" to "Rafa in a Rage" once the real story from Middlesbrough emerged.

Luke Edwards wrote for the paper: "Although Chelsea came through a tricky FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough on Wednesday without any major incident to book a quarter-final meeting with Manchester United, the chances of Benítez remaining in charge are somewhere between minute and non-existent."

Michael Walker in the Daily Mail said that Benitez had "finally surrendered to a baying mob" after another night of abuse from his own supporters. Walker surmised events by saying: "This is a club eating itself in public."

In a column for the Independent James Lawton asks: "Come on, Rafa what did you expect? It was never going to be a bed of roses."

Lawton writes: "Last night Benitez produced echoes of the American president Richard Nixon when he believed his political career was over long before his Watergate denouement: 'You won't have me to kick around any longer,' he told his worst critics, and that was the substance of Benitez's outburst after another night when Chelsea supporters reminded him that he was still so far anything like acceptance."

Louise Taylor in the Guardian describes Benitez's comments as a "measured, apparently premeditated post-match monologue" and a "calculate gamble."

"While not excessive, the abuse he received at the Riverside on Wednesday night was part of a depressing soundtrack to Chelsea's season since the former Liverpool manager replaced the sacked Roberto Di Matteo," she added.

Certainly it seems that Rafa is reaching the end of the road at Chelsea – it is just a question as to how quickly he gets there now.

We will quickly wrap up some other rumours. Manchester City have been dealt a major blow in their chase for Edinson Cavani after Real Madrid stepped up their attempts to land the Napoli forward. (Daily Mail)

Arsenal are ready to relax their wage structure this summer to help attract the genuinely world-class talent that Arsene Wenger wants to boost his squad. Stevan Jovetic, the Fiorentina striker, is being regularly watched and Wenger retains a strong interest in Borussia Dortmund playmaker Mario Götze. (Daily Telegraph)

Anzhi Makhachkala, the Russian Premier League club, have been rebuffed in an attempt to secure Tottenham Hotspur's Younes Kaboul on loan ahead of the resumption of their domestic season next month. (The Guardian).

Finally, Stoke City boss Tony Pulis is ready to swoop for Bolton’s Spanish left-back Marcos Alonso – at the second attempt. Alonso is also wanted by Italian giants Fiorentina, but would prefer to remain playing in England. (Daily Mirror)

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