Fulham manager Martin Jol believes Wednesday’s west London derby is a “must-win game” for Chelsea and under-fire counterpart Rafael Benitez.
The past week has been one of change and controversy at the Blues, who disposed of boss Roberto Di Matteo after the 3-0 Champions League defeat at Juventus.
Former Liverpool boss Benitez’s swift appointment upset some Chelsea fans and they made their feelings known during Sunday’s goalless draw with Manchester City.
The Spaniard’s second game at the helm sees local rivals Fulham come to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday – a match Jol believes is of grave importance for the hosts.
“I don’t think I have experienced it before in my career, but of course, in England he was at Liverpool, a big club,” the Dutchman said of the fans’ reaction.
“He said probably a few things about Chelsea and I have done that in the past because you are like a chameleon.
“You get the colours of the club you are at and that is what he did so I think after a couple of wins I feel he will win them over.
“It is not only about the manager, it is about the club and winning games. Hopefully he won’t start tomorrow [Wednesday].
“I feel it is a must-win game for them. They have to probably win, to have a result, tomorrow otherwise that will be problematic.”
Fulham come into the match off the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Stoke and without a win at Stamford Bridge since 1979.
“I felt that Stoke is different,” Jol said in regards to Saturday’s performance at the Britannia Stadium. “I think if you saw us in other away games we scored goals and look good going forward.
“Last year against Chelsea, the Capital One Cup game was a draw and the league games were a draw home and away.
“We had three draws, which isn’t bad but we couldn’t beat them. Hopefully it will be the first time tomorrow.”
Fulham head to their neighbours in the midst of a five-match winless streak and are in danger of losing a third successive match.
Chelsea are also without a win in five league games, but Jol is not too bothered about the statistics.
“Two weeks ago they said we were on an unbeaten run of six games,” he said. “We had four draws in that and the game against Sunderland came up and we had a red card so we were a bit unfortunate.
“I feel you can always lose at Stoke so we are close, but of course we have to get our winning streak back.
“That is what I feel, because even you get draws that is not enough because it is only one point. We have had a lot of draws.”
Fulham will again be without captain Brede Hangeland on Wednesday as he serves the second of a three-match suspension.
Alex Kacaniklic, Bryan Ruiz, Simon Davies and Kieran Richardson also remain sidelined, but Kerim Frei is available following a loan spell at Cardiff.