Rafael Benitez wants to stay at Chelsea until end of the season

 

Football Focus - Full Rafael Benitez interview

  • Date: Saturday, 2 March
  • Time: 12:15 GMT
  • Channel: BBC One, BBC One HD and online

Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez says he has an "excellent" relationship with owner Roman Abramovich and will remain at the club until the summer.

The Spaniard criticised some Blues fans following Wednesday's 2-0 FA Cup win at Middlesbrough and also said he would leave in May.

"My relationship with Roman is very good," he told BBC Sport's Dan Walker.

When asked if he would be sacked, Benitez replied: "No. They know how we work and what we are trying to do."

He added: "The players are really happy in what we are trying to do. Sometimes you win, sometimes you cannot.

"The atmosphere in the club is really good. There are no issues in the team. In terms of what we do, the players are fully behind the methods.

"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."

The 52-year-old is contracted to Chelsea until the end of the season but his assertion that he will see out his deal at Stamford Bridge will come as a surprise to some observers, who believe Benitez's post-match outburst on Wednesday has increased the pressure on him.

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We were winning on Wednesday and still they were singing about me - I think that will not do our team any favours

Rafael Benitez Chelsea manager

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 live following Chelsea's FA Cup win at the Riverside, Benitez said the decision of the club to give him the title of "interim manager" was a "massive mistake" and that the fans were "wasting their time" in protesting against him.

"We still have 11 games to play in the Premier League, and we have the FA Cup and the Europa League," he continued.

"Everyone knows I will finish my contract at the end of the season.

"So this group of fans, who are singing and creating banners, have to concentrate on supporting the team. The rest of the fans, the majority of fans, know the way to help the team is by supporting the players.

"I'm thinking about my team and my club. I want to win every game. I've tried to explain the way is to support the team in every single game.

"We were winning yesterday and still they were singing. I think that will not do our team any favours."

Benitez has been unpopular with some fans since taking over from Champions League-winning manager Roberto Di Matteo in November.

A section of the club's supporters has been unable to forgive Benitez for his association with Liverpool, or forget the rivalry he formed with then Blues boss Jose Mourinho.

Dan Walker on Benitez interview

The crew and I arrived at the hotel early and - after a few issues with light bulbs - we were all set up and ready for Rafa to arrive. I met him in reception at 14:55 GMT and you could see that all eyes were trained on him and that tongues were starting to wag.

As Liverpool manager, Benitez outwitted Mourinho in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League semi-finals as well as the 2006 FA Cup semi-final. He was also critical towards his current club while in charge at Anfield.

Benitez's cause has not been helped by Chelsea's Premier League form.

They are through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and in the last 16 of the Europa League, but they have dropped to fourth in the league behind Tottenham, who are managed by former Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas.

Earlier this week, reports emerged from Stamford Bridge that Benitez was involved in a heated exchange with members of his squad  following their 2-0 Premier League defeat at Manchester City on Sunday.

Benitez denied those stories, insisting the players backed him "100%".

Former Chelsea boss Mourinho, currently at Real Madrid, is favourite with the bookmakers to replace Benitez when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Chelsea were pursuing Pep Guardiola but the former Barcelona boss opted to join German giants Bayern Munich ahead of their next Bundesliga campaign.

Watch the full Football Focus interview with Rafael Benitez on BBC One, Saturday, 2 March at 12:15 GMT.