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It's win-or-bust for Benitez as Blues look to turn corner

Paul Kelso

Published 09/02/2013 | 04:00

If Chelsea supporters feel like they are in the dark about Roman Abramovich's moods and machinations, they can take comfort from the fact they are not alone.

Rafael Benitez, the incumbent of the most thankless job in English football, is equally uncertain about the future.

The interim manager's tenure reaches a potentially decisive turn today with the visit of Wigan to Stamford Bridge for a game Chelsea are expected to win and Benitez cannot afford to lose.

His side have won just once in six, a victory over Arsenal that is less fresh in the memory than the 3-2 defeat at Newcastle and draw at Reading that have raised concerns about Champions League football being at the Bridge next season.

Lose today and Benitez's chances of seeing out his six-month contract will recede dramatically; win and the debate will only be postponed until the next blip. With home and away Europa League ties against Sparta Prague either side of an English FA Cup replay against Brentford in the next 12 days, Benitez may feel he cannot win, even if his side do.

Contact

Benitez revealed that he has had no contact with Abramovich since the Arsenal game 20 days ago. Whether it is the manager's future or Frank Lampard's chances of a new contract, all roads lead to the closed door of the oligarch's mind.

"Do you know what he thinks? If you don't know, you can't say this or that will happen. Nobody knows," said Benitez.

Referring to reports that Jorgen Klopp heads a list of potential replacements, Benitez said: "You put names in the press, 200 names, it doesn't matter. My job is exactly the same. After winning, you can have better comments in the media in general, but that's part of football. If you win, it's fine. If not, people start talking."

Asked if he had received a guarantee that he will see out the season, Benitez said: "I cannot give you an answer. Why? I have to concentrate on 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 win games." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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