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Saturday 23 August 2014

Rafa refuses to answer questions about Mourinho's return

Matt McGeehan

Published 01/05/2013 | 19:09

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30 April: Jose Mourinho has dropped the strongest hint yet that he will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season following their Champions League semi-final defeat to Borussia Dortmund. When asked if he would remain in the Spanish capital for next season, he replied: "Maybe not. I don't know, but I want to be where people love me to be. "I know in England I'm loved. I'm loved by the fans, I'm loved by the media that treats me in a fair way, criticising me but giving me credit when I deserve it."
Rafael Benitez returns to Anfield on Sunday as Chelsea take on Liverpool
Rafael Benitez returns to Anfield on Sunday as Chelsea take on Liverpool

Rafael Benitez refused to respond to Jose Mourinho's desire to be loved as speculation intensifies that the self-titled 'Special One' is poised to return to Chelsea.

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Interim boss Benitez was repeatedly asked about Real Madrid boss Mourinho's comments last night, when the Portuguese declared "I want to be where people love me to be", immediately heightening suggestions a return to Stamford Bridge was imminent.

Benitez, who is under contract until the end of the season, repeatedly rebuffed his inquisitors, even when asked if he would like to succeed Mourinho at the Bernabeu.

"It's not my business," said Benitez, who was speaking ahead of tomorrow's Europa League semi-final second leg with Basle.

"I have to concentrate on my business, that is to beat Basle tomorrow."

Repeatedly Benitez declined to comment, preferring to focus on tomorrow's clash with the Swiss champions as Chelsea, who lead 2-1 from the first leg, bid to advance to the May 15 final in Amsterdam.

He said: "It's not my business. I have to concentrate on this game. That's it. I think it's quite important."

Benitez refused to bite when asked whether it was disrespectful for Mourinho to comment on a job which is currently occupied, albeit temporarily.

"Each one [person] has his way," he said. "My way is concentrate on the next game, that's it.

The Europa League is one of two remaining targets for Chelsea; the other is qualifying for next season's Champions League by finishing in the Barclays Premier League top four.

Asked how necessary it is for Chelsea to reach the competition they won in 2012 in order to attract a leading manager, Benitez said: "It was important before and it's important now. "We know it's our priority and we'll try to do it. I like to think in a positive way. We will be there."

Like his manager, Juan Mata declined to comment on Mourinho.

"It's not our business or the players' business right now," the Spain forward said. "We just have to be focused about what we're playing for, which is a very important trophy for the club, to be third in the league and try to play in the Champions League. That's it. That's all I can say."

It is not inconceivable Benitez could stay on at Chelsea.

Asked to assess his compatriot, Mata said: "Rafa is a manager who has had great seasons in every club that he has worked.

"Since he came he just tried to do his best for the team. For me and for the players he's a great manager. "We're now at the end of the season trying to be in third position, which is our aim, and having the chance to win a trophy.

"Maybe the season will be good at the end and good for Rafa, as well."

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