In Depth

I'm not going, says Benitez, whatever fans might want

Neither Chelsea fan power nor board will dislodge me before contract expiries in May, Rafa assures BBC

Rafa Benitez

RAFA BENITEZ claims he has an "excellent" relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and has no intention of leaving the club before his contract expires in May.

During an interview with BBC's Football Focus to be broadcast on Saturday, Benitez was asked about his now infamous attack on Chelsea fans and about his complaint regarding Roman Abramovich's decision to describe him as only an "interim" manager.

"My relationship with Roman is very good," Benitez replied. "When I meet with Roman Abramovich we talk about football. He will say, 'I don't like this' or 'I don't like that', but we talk like normal people and share a passion for football."

In the immediate aftermath of Wednesday's outburst, the media were quick to speculate that Benitez would be sacked. But the Chelsea board gave him a vote of confidence on Thursday and the Spaniard believes he'll see out his contract. "They know how we work and what we are trying to do," he said of the board.

He also dismissed reports of friction within the dressing-room, saying: "The players are really happy in what we are trying to do. Sometimes you win, sometimes you cannot… [but] there are no issues in the team. In terms of what we do, the players are fully behind the methods."

Since Benitez replaced Roberto Di Matteo as manager in November, Chelsea have slipped to fourth in the Premier League table but the 52-year-old believes there is still much to play for. "We still have 11 games to play in the Premier League, and we have the FA Cup and the Europa League," he said. "If we stick together and support the players we will be able to win games. Then at the end of the season I will leave and then they can criticise."

By "they" he means the section of Chelsea fans who have booed and jeered Benitez ever since his arrival because of his association with Liverpool. It was they who bore the brunt of Benitez's attack on Wednesday and he was unrepentant during the interview with the BBC.

"This group of fans that are singing or creating banners or whatever have to concentrate on supporting the team," he said. "The way to help the team is to support the players every single game. At home it will be easier for us. But if they continue like Wednesday, singing when we were winning two-nil [vs Middlesbrough], that does no favours to our team or our players."

Benitez had a final message for those fans who, according to the Mirror, will create "hell" for their manager when Chelsea host West Brom on Saturday. ""Everyone knows I will finish my contract at the end of the season."

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