Rafael Benitez believes most Chelsea fans appreciate his work at the club.
When Roberto Di Matteo was sacked earlier this season it didn’t go down well with the majority of the Stamford Bridge faithful, who not only admired him as a player, but also for leading them to UEFA Champions League glory just six months previously. That he was replaced with Benitez made the situation worse, with the Spaniard still vilified from his spell in charge of Liverpool when the two clubs often met in Europe.
The Blues’ defence of the trophy they won in Munich was all but over when the 53-year-old arrived in the capital, but he has failed to mount a bid for the Premier League title. Manchester City eliminated them from the semi-finals of the FA Cup, another trophy they won last term, but they do have a UEFA Europa League final to look forward to this month.
And a win over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday would secure a top-four finish for Chelsea, who are being widely tipped to reappoint Jose Mourinho as manager next season. Indeed, this is something Benitez also believes is certain to happen, but he also feels he will leave the club with the fans finally realising he has done a good job during his time charge.
“We know next year there will be a new manager here, so it is very clear. I think everyone knows who will be here,” he said. “I have to concentrate on my job, it is not my concern what will happen here next year. I am doing a good job and I’m sure most of the fans appreciate that. You could see a lot of improvement this year.”
Benitez enjoyed a particularly sweet moment on Sunday, when a deflected Juan Mata effort was enough to inflict a victory over Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United at Old Trafford. However, the Blues are still 17 points adrift of the champions, whereas when Di Matteo was sacked in November, they were just four behind then-leaders Manchester City.