Vialli hopeful of replacing Benitez at Chelsea

The 48-year-old suggests the Blues have had the most success under Italians, such as Carlo Ancelotti and Claudio Ranieri, but supports the Spaniard's decision to criticise fans
Former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli has revealed that he would like to return to Stamford Bridge when Rafa Benitez leaves the club at the end of the season.

The ex-striker played for the Blues from 1996, winning the FA Cup in his first season, before being made player-manager in 1998 after Ruud Guillit's sacking.

And the 48-year-old, who led the club to the League Cup, European Cup Winners' Cup and Super Cup in his first two years, is now eyeing a return to west London - where he thinks Italians do the best job.

"I hope it's going to be an Italian," Vialli told Sky Sports News when asked who should take over.

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"We've had four Italian managers at Chelsea in the past 12 years and I think the majority of them have been pretty successful. Hopefully it would be me."

Vialli was sacked five games into the 2000-01 league season after an indifferent start, while he had also reportedly fallen out with a number of key players, and has since had just one unsuccessful spell in charge of Watford in 2002.

However he has been put on alert due to the current situation with interim boss Benitez, who he indicated was right to criticise fans' booing, and believes the former Liverpool man cannot possibly stay on for another season.

The ex-striker added: "I think Rafael Benitez has finally realised it would be impossible to change the chairman's mind about giving him another season.

"I think he's also realised that there's no doubt the fans are not going to support him.

"I think he's done the right thing which is to ask the fans to forget about not liking the manager but to keep supporting the side and the players because the players need support.

"There's no doubt they're suffering a little bit from this situation."