Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez gives a clear hint as to who he believes will be the Chelsea manager next season.
COBHAM, NEAR LONDON, UK (MAY 7, 2013) (REUTERS) - Rafa Benitez, one win away from sealing a top-four finish for Chelsea in the Premier League and one more from a European trophy, ruled out extending his stay at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday (May 7), saying the identity of his successor was an open secret.
The Spaniard, still unpopular with a section of Chelsea's support from his days withLiverpool, has impressed as the club's interim manager and victory at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday (May 8) would all but secure a place in at least the qualifying round for the Champions League.
"You know that next year another manager will be here and I think every one knows who will be here," Benitez said in a televised news conference, when asked if his success at the club could lead to a longer stay.
Self-proclaimed "Special One" Jose Mourinho is the hot favourite to return to Chelsea from Real Madrid, having won two Premier League titles for the club during his first stint in charge which ended in 2007.
"I have to concentrate on my job. It's not my concern now what will happen next year," Benitez, who will lead the side against Portuguese club Benfica in theEuropa League final in Amsterdam this month, said.
Chelsea come into the match against Tottenham after beating champions Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday (May 5). The match exploded into life after a Phil Jones own goal gave Chelsea the lead after 86 minutes. Moments later, United defender Rafael was sent off for kicking out at fellow Brazilian David Luiz, who was seen apparently smiling as he lay on the ground, something that has upset many people. Benitez. however, defended the player for his actions.
"I am aware that David Luiz is one of the best players in the Premier League, by miles. Miles away of a lot of players, so he is one of the best, without doubt. I think talking about that, we are not talking about Chelsea beating United.
"Then we start talking about this and I don't agree with that because David Luiz was laughing because the fans were abusing him and after, the red card was very clear, the timing, but we continue talking about this instead of trying to eradicate the bad tackles we can see every week. I think we are giving importance to something that is not as important as the other things. Still, I don't like this situation, but we are talking about one of the best players there is in the Premier League."
Chelsea will have Eden Hazard available for the match against Tottenham after he missed the win at Manchester United through injury.
Tottenham have not won a league game at Chelsea for 23 years and defeat would leave them six points behind Chelsea and two points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with two games remaining.
"At this point, it is crucial for us because if we win, we will be in the top four and nearly guaranteed, so if you say before, during the season, you will have a lot of important games but this is is it, this is the most important," said Benitez.
Gareth Bale, who has won many accolades this season, has been a key player in Tottenham's team this season and Benitez is well aware of his talents.
"He's a very good player. A great season, scoring a lot of crucial goals for them, so we know that he is a player and now that he is playing in different positions and is doing well in all of them, a really good player," he said.