Interim manager may decide against lap due to relationship with the home fans.
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has hinted that he may elect not to take part in the club’s traditional lap of honour following their final game of the season at home to Everton on Sunday.
Benitez led his side to victory over Benfica in Wednesday’s Europa League final in Amsterdam and has also secured qualification for next season’s Champions League, thereby fulfilling the principle objectives he was given when he succeeded the sacked Roberto Di Matteo in November.
However, he remains an unpopular figure among sections of the Chelsea support due to his prior position as Liverpool manager and as such, he was reluctant to discuss the prospect of soaking in the acclaim from the fans after Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge.
“I will try to concentrate on the game; enjoy, hopefully, the game, and see what happens after,” he said on Friday.
“What I can guarantee is that I will try to win the game. That is the main thing.”
Benitez will leave the club at the end of the campaign and although he believes they are capable of mounting a strong title challenge next season, he backtracked on comments that Chelsea could spend £100 million ($152 million, 118 million euros) on new players in the transfer window.
“It’s a really good group of players and I think the club will add some new players,” Benitez said.
“I said the other day it could be £100 million, but I don’t know. It could be £50 million, it could be £20 million, it could be £200 million. I don’t know, but I’m sure they will try to improve, like every club.
“And I think the team will be much better because they will have more experience and new players coming in and pushing.”
Chelsea are already assured of a top-four finish, but they could yet lose their grip on third place to Arsenal, which would oblige them to enter next season’s Champions League in the qualifying rounds.
Should the two sides finish level on points, goal difference and goals scored, they would meet in a play-off to determine which team finished third.
Chelsea will be without captain John Terry (ankle), forward Eden Hazard (hamstring) and left-back Ryan Bertrand (knee) due to injury on Sunday, when David Moyes will take charge of Everton for the final time before succeeding Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United.
Everton are yet to appoint a successor to the Scot, but although Benitez still lives on The Wirral, close to Liverpool, he said there was no chance of him taking over from Moyes.
Asked about the Everton job, Benitez said: “I don’t think so. I have a lot of respect for Everton and I think that they’re doing really well. It’s not easy. There are not too many options.”
Benitez wished Moyes luck at Old Trafford, saying: “I think he’s done a good job. He has been for years keeping the team at the top, in the top eight, top six, top five.
“We were rivals for a while, we will be rivals on Sunday. After this game, I wish him all the best.
“After Ferguson and United, everyone will have trouble to do the same as he did. It’s impossible. The support of Ferguson I think will be key for him.”