Rafael Benitez drops biggest hint yet that Mourinho is on his way back to Chelsea.
Rafael Benitez said Tuesday he expected to be replaced as Chelsea boss by former Blues manager Jose Mourinho.
Interim Chelsea manager Benitez reiterated he would be leaving Stamford Bridge as planned at the end of the season having signed a short-term contract to take charge in November following the sacking of Roberto di Matteo.
Real Madrid coach Mourinho, who left the London club in September 2007 after three years in charge at Stamford Bridge, has been strongly linked with a return to his former side.
“The next year there will be another manager,” said Benitez.
“I think everybody knows who will be here,” the Spaniard added in a clear reference to Portuguese manager Mourinho.
Benitez, for all he has done in guiding Chelsea into next week’s Europa League final against Porto, has never been accepted by the Blues’ faithful on account of his prolonged war of words with the Londoners in general and Mourinho in particular when in charge of Liverpool.
Although he wouldn’t be drawn into referring to Mourinho directly by name on Tuesday, it was clear he was talking about the self-styled ‘Special One’ which is reportedly how Chelsea captain John Terry still regards him.
But Benitez insisted all the speculation would not distract him from the task at hand.
“I will concentrate on my job now. I have to concentrate on my job. It’s not my concern now,” he said.
Benitez, for all the abuse heaped upon him, is on the brink of securing a return to the Champions League for Chelsea and victory over Tottenham in Wednesday’s London derby would see the third-placed Blues move six points clear of Spurs with two games of the season left and a far better goal difference.
As to his own future, Benitez — who has been linked with German club Schalke — said: “My future is Tottenham, after we will see. 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.”
There will be another Portuguese former Chelsea manager opposite Benitez on Wednesday in the shape of Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas, sacked by the Blues last season amid reports he’d fallen out with senior players such as Terry.
“I think he’s a good manager, he’s working hard for his new team,” Benitez said, before turning his attention back to Chelsea.
“What I find every day is a very good group of players, keen to learn, ready to do things and to improve.
“You could see a lot of improvement this year. It’s a good group of professionals.”