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LONDON: Gary Cahill believes Chelsea’s second-half fight-back in the weekend FA Cup draw at Brentford confirmed Rafael Benitez has the full backing of the dressing room.
Benitez’s side will attempt to close the gap on second-placed Manchester City when they return to Premier League action at Reading today following two frustrating cup fixtures.
Their failure to beat League One Brentford came after Chelsea’s League Cup semi-final exit at Swansea.
And the visiting supporters at Brentford’s Griffin Park made no attempt to disguise their criticism of Benitez, who has failed to win over the Chelsea fans following his unpopular appointment as interim manager last month.
Cahill acknowledges the tension among between manager and supporters but insists the way the side rallied after trailing Brentford at the break underscores the unity in the squad.
“There is a lot of pressure from the fans but we needed to just try to do the job,” the centre-back said.
“In the end, we grafted it out on a horrible day and we now need to show our quality at home.
“It was the character we needed to dig in and just get the result we needed,” Cahill added. “Obviously we wanted the win but at least we have taken it back to the Bridge and hopefully we can finish the job there.
“Everyone was aware how important the game was. Ideally we would have gone in at half-time a couple of goals up but that wasn’t the case.
“There were a few words said in the dressing room from Rafa (at the break) and then between the players themselves.
“Everyone knew we were below par. We spoke about that and we needed to do something about it in the second half.” Meanwhile, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has revealed Javier Hernandez is leaving him with a dilemma as to whether he drop the Mexican striker for the visit of Southampton today.
Hernandez, 24, has scored 14 goals so far this season despite not being a regular starter for the Premier League leaders.
But he has had to battle with Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck for a place in United’s line-up. Hernandez scored two goals as United knocked Fulham out of the FA Cup on Saturday but may find himself on the bench when the Saints come to Old Trafford, with van Persie likely to return for the Premier League fixture.
The Dutchman was rested for the Cup tie but Ferguson cannot be expected to leave the league’s top scorer out of a match where United’s lead at the top might be cut to two points by kick-off if champions Manchester City beat bottom-of-the-table QPR.
“He got a break in the summer, got the little rest and shown the benefit,” Ferguson said of Hernandez. AGENCIES