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Jose not a dead cert for Chelsea

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Chelsea's interim manager Rafael Benitez on the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 5, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Man Utd. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

Chelsea's interim manager Rafael Benitez on the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 5, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Man Utd. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

Chelsea's interim manager Rafael Benitez on the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 5, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Man Utd. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

RAFAEL BENITEZ suggested that he expects Jose Mourinho to be named his successor as Chelsea manager – but that was before the unexpected announcement today by Alex Ferguson that he is to retire at the end of the season as Manchester United manager.

Interim boss Benitez again confirmed he will depart Stamford Bridge this summer at the end of his short-term contract.

Real Madrid head coach Mourinho, who left after three years as Blues boss in September 2007, has been strongly linked with a return, with a date of July 1 mooted, but the major development today could scupper Mourinho's suspected move back to Stamford Bridge.

Boylesports have made Mourinho the 5/4 favourite to take over at Old Trafford, although Everton manager David Moyes is believed to be in pole position to replace Ferguson..

"The next year there will be another manager," said Benitez, who replaced Roberto Di Matteo in November. "I think everybody knows who will be here."

Due to his prior association with Liverpool, where he regularly crossed swords with Mourinho, both domestically and in Europe, Benitez was an unpopular appointment among fans, the majority of whom adore the Portuguese.

He would not be drawn into naming names, but it was clear Benitez was responding to the clamour for Mourinho.

The Spaniard said: "I will concentrate on my job now. I have to concentrate on my job. It's not my concern now."

Benitez has quietly moved within sight of his targets since the vitriol towards him quietened down in the wake of his plea to supporters following the FA Cup win at Middlesbrough in February.

Chelsea are in next week's Europa League final against Benfica and well placed in the Premier League for a return to the Champions League.

Victory in tonight's London derby with Tottenham would see third-placed Chelsea move six points clear of Spurs with two games to play and a far superior goal difference.

Benitez, who has been linked with German side Schalke, would not comment on his own future and preferred to focus on Spurs.

"My future is Tottenham, after we will see," he said. "At the moment I'm just thinking about Tottenham and what we could do.

"I have to keep doing my job, that is trying to prepare the team properly for every game and the agents, they have to do their jobs."

The victory over Manchester United was Chelsea's fourth in five games.

Captain John Terry was an unused substitute at Old Trafford, but revealed in an interview that he and midfielder Frank Lampard regularly keep in touch with Mourinho.

"We send each other text messages and often wish each other good luck," Terry said.

"He's interested in our results and everything that happens at the club. He's not only in contact with me, but also with Lampard and other players.

"Mourinho has a great relationship with our fans because we won the Premier League and several other titles with him.

"Real Madrid must be respected, as he is under contract. The fans have clearly shown that he is the man they want after everything he won. He's still 'The Special One'.

"He's a top manager who I really enjoyed working under."

Asked about Terry's comments, Benitez said: "My concern is if they (the players) are in contact with me. We talk every day and we talk about what we have to do."

Benitez praised Tottenham's Gareth Bale, but insisted Chelsea had no special plans for the PFA Player of the Year and said Spurs should be wary of the likes of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, who is available after missing the Manchester United win with a calf injury.

The Old Trafford triumph saw the Blues move within sight of second-placed Manchester City and Benitez, who is keen to wrap up Champions League qualification prior to next week's trip to Amsterdam, is looking upwards, rather than behind to Spurs and Arsenal.

"It (qualifying before the final) could be important for us," he said.

"If you have the qualification done, then you can concentrate a little bit more (on the final). Still, we want to finish in the top three or even more – it depends on the other results. We will try to win every (game), but if you have guaranteed a position, it's always easier."


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