Rafa’s the gaffer at Chelsea

Rafael Benitez has been confirmed as Chelsea’s interim manager.

The former Liverpool boss – an unpopular figure among Blues fans from his time at Anfield – has been placed in charge until the end of the season.

He takes over from Roberto Di Matteo, who was sacked after Tuesday night’s Champions League defeat against Juventus.

A Chelsea statement read: “The owner and the board believe that in Benitez we have a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives.”

Benitez, 52, is due to meet Chelsea’s players at the club’s Cobham training ground on Thursday.

The Spaniard is the ninth manager at Stamford Bridge since owner Roman Abramovich’s arrival in 2003.

After leaving Valencia for Liverpool in 2004, he won the Champions League the following year and spent six years on Merseyside.

Out of work since he was sacked by Inter Milan in December 2010 after just six months at the San Siro, Benitez had been looking to return to top-level management for some time.

The short-term appointment will fuel speculation that Abramovich will make a summer approach for ex-Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, who is currently taking time out of the game.

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