Friday 26 December 2014

Benitez: Three weeks since Roman talk

Published 09/02/2013 | 11:01

Owner Roman Abramovich, pictured, appointed Rafael Benitez as interim manager in November
Owner Roman Abramovich, pictured, appointed Rafael Benitez as interim manager in November

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has revealed he last spoke to owner Roman Abramovich almost three weeks ago.

Benitez, appointed in November until the end of the season tasked with sealing Champions League qualification, spoke with Russian billionaire Abramovich following the defeat of Arsenal but in the four games since the Blues have failed to win.

Whether the silent treatment indicates Abramovich is preparing to replace Benitez after three wins in 10 matches is difficult to tell, but the oligarch is not renowned for his patience. Benitez did confirm, at least, that Abramovich was content following the win over the Gunners, saying: "The Arsenal game was the last conversation we had. That was 20 days ago - we were doing really well. He was very happy."

He continued: "We were talking about football. In terms of football everything is fine. Since then I've had conversations with people close to him, not directly."

The subject of Benitez's future was not raised on that occasion, yet it may be on the agenda should Chelsea fail to beat Wigan in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday. The Spaniard was unable to say whether he will remain in the post until the end of the season.

"He (Abramovich) is not talking about this; he likes to talk about football," Benitez said. "He was saying the team were fantastic in the first half, then the second half...he was talking about normal things."

Benitez refused to entertain questions over his future and insisted his focus was on Wigan, adding: "If you win, it's fine. If you cannot, people start talking. I cannot talk about the future if my priority is the next game. I have a contract until the end of the season and we can be talking and talking, but all I can do is to win games.

"My position is to concentrate on games and try to improve the performance of the team. We want to win. He (Abramovich) wants to win. That's it. He wants to be in the top four, obviously. We know with a little bit of luck we will be in a much better position."

Benitez, who spent the first part of the international break at his family home on the Wirral, was adamant the uncertainty over his position was not unsettling.

"My job is exactly the same," he said. "I knew that I was signing six or seven months of contract. I'm not here to change things outside the pitch. I'm here to improve players, to do my best every day."

Press Association

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