Wednesday 17 January 2018

Bookies back Mourinho to make emotional return to Stamford Bridge

Jose Mourinho. Picture: PA
Jose Mourinho. Picture: PA

Tony Kelshaw

Jose Mourinho has been backed to make a sensational return to Chelsea following Rafael Benitez's revelation that he will leave the club this summer - at the latest!

Benitez is actually 2/1 with Paddy Power to still be in charge for the final game of this season after hitting out at both the club's board and the treatment he has received from some supporters.

"Rafa, in usual fashion, is attempting to make his exit from a job as dramatic as possible. His ranting and raving at the fans has taken his approval rating at Stamford Bridge to a Felipe Scolari style low and we think the Special One's return is imminent," said a spokesman for the Irish firm.

Ladbrokes have cut the odds of Benitez leaving before the last day of the current campaign from 7/4 to 5/6 but do also go 25/1 for the Spaniard to bow out in style by leading the Blues to victory in both the Europa League and FA Cup finals.

"It won't come as a shock that all the money is for Rafa to walk before the season is out," said their spokesman Alex Donohue. "Punters also seem to think Mourinho is now waiting in the wings as a result."

Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo both left the Chelsea hotseat just days after facing West Brom and bet365 are offering odds about Benitez suffering a similar fate, with Steve Clarke's Baggies visiting Stamford Bridge tomorrow.

With West Ham being the Blues' next scheduled top-flight fixture on March 17, it is 6/4 for the Spaniard's final Premier League match to be this weekend's clash with Albion.

Bet365 spokesman Steve Freeth said: "The Baggies haven't been a great team to face if you're a manager under pressure in recent times as Mick McCarthy, Chris Hughton, AVB and Di Matteo will testify and Benitez could well make it third time unlucky for a Chelsea manager."

Mourinho is 11/8 with the last-named firm to be Chelsea's next permanent boss but odds-on with several other bookmakers to replace Benitez and embark on a second spell at Stamford Bridge, having led the London club to back-to-back Premier League titles and an FA Cup triumph in his last stint there.

"Benitez has said he will not be at Stamford Bridge next season, although following his outburst against Chelsea's fans and management, we reckon he may be gone before the summer break, and with Pep Guardiola committed to Bayern Munich, we feel Mourinho is in pole position to return to West London," said Coral's David Stevens.

Tottenham host Arsenal in the pick of this weekend's Premier League fixtures and Spurs appeal at the widely available 13/10 to beat the Gunners at White Hart Lane for the third time in four seasons, having also impressed more in their recent fixtures.

Arsene Wenger's side may be seeking a fourth straight league win but were far from convincing against Stoke, Sunderland or Aston Villa and their fragile defence is sure to be tested once more by a red-hot Gareth Bale and former striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who has a good record in front of goal versus his old club.

England's cricketers have been backed in from 8/15 to 4/9 with William Hill to win next week's first Test against New Zealand in Dunedin and are 1/4 at the same firm to take the best-of-three series, with spokesman Rupert Adams stating: "The tourists look extremely strong at both disciplines and it is hard to see the Black Caps getting much from the series!"

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