Benitez says Chelsea squad at risk of 'burn out' if not used properly
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has expressed concern to the club hierarchy that the European champions' first-team squad is critically thin on numbers, and playing far too many matches is damaging the players' fitness levels.
Benitez outlined his initial impressions, after a week in the job, during a board meeting attended by Roman Abramovich and the sporting director, Michael Emenalo, on Thursday.
Benitez stressed to the board how stretched the squad appears, with 19 players having been used by his predecessor, Roberto Di Matteo, in the league and key personnel displaying fatigue ahead of the Club World Cup in Japan and the busy Christmas fixture list.
"If you're not winning and you analyse the players who have played almost every game, there aren't many players here," the Guardian quoted Benitez, as saying.
"There were 19 in the league, and now it's 20 with Marko Marin [who appeared as a substitute against Fulham]. They'd been playing fewer players than other clubs. I'm not here to criticise, but that's the reality," he added.
"They'd played so many games, two or three a week and massive games in the Champions League, that the players were getting tired. You can't give them a rest either, because there's no time. I explained what I'd seen, my ideas on things and my explanations," he said.
Benitez added: "You can see the team needs to improve a bit physically but you cannot do that if they play two games every week. There's no recovery time. I'd like to have players for a week and train them properly - they would all gain the benefit - but we have to play games."